|c. 1991, how I like to remember them|
He passed away eleven years ago, shortly after we put him in a nursing home. His Alzheimer's had made it impossible for my mom to take care of him, and we feared it was doing her harm. So in he went. Beyond his mental faculties, he was otherwise healthy as healthy could be.
Then, a month later, he was gone. Neglect was the suspicion, but we couldn't prove it. We found out that in the ER, doctors will tell you how bad the treatment was that led to his death. If you talk of lawsuits, however, you suddenly find out that the same doctors never even heard of an ER. So we couldn't do anything about it. It is why, however, my mom lives with us now and will continue to, no matter what, until it becomes a matter of her health that she must go in a different direction.
Plus, I think ol'Dad would want us to take care of her for him. My sister's husband died of pancreatic cancer right when Mom was no longer able to care for herself, owing to her own bout with dementia. That left a nursing home - out of the question - or us. In an odd twist, I was a department supervisor at a major health care company, yet my health benefits were disastrously bad compared to my wife's benefits through her job.
That was the tipping point. Plus we figured Mom would be more receptive to her own son tending to her than my wife, despite them having a close relationship. So that's why I came home. It hasn't been easy by a long shot. Between finances, the tending to a live at home parent, and homeschool, it's more than difficult. But it's very rewarding as well.
Some day I'm going to write a book titled 'Women in the Workplace: What the Hell Were They Thinking?' I mean, I know it rubs against the grain. And no matter how present I am in the boys' lives with my wife at work, when they get sick or skin their knee, who do you think they run to? You bet. They run over their dad to get to their mom every time. And there's not a darn thing the modern 'science' can do about that.
Nonetheless, in my own discount stay at home parent role, I can see the vast rewards and self worth that comes with being the one to keep the hearth and family together, to cook the meals (when my oldest is unavailable), to keep things in order, to be there when needed. Compared to the rat race, the marathon driving commutes in blizzard conditions, the stress and strain of the corporate (or even pastoral) office, the rewards from even the worst of caring for the family at home exceed by leaps and bounds any rewards from brining home a paycheck. No matter what the future holds, I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.
Therefore with the options at hand and our refusal to put mom into a nursing home, however, this is the choice we've made. My wife has climbed the corporate ladder since and is now VP of her particular piece of the greater corporate pie. Financially, that makes a difference.
However we pull it, I think it's the least we can do for Dad since the one thing he did in his life was to take care of his family. Having had a turbulent upbringing, the one thing he did was focus on caring for the family.