Thursday, February 24, 2022

Remembering Dad

c. 1991, how I like to remember them
Yesterday was my late dad's birthday.  I'm not one to dwell on things to be honest.  My sister is, and seldom does she go a day without thinking about Dad and missing him.  I miss him, too.  I just don't dwell.  

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.


  1. My mother received quite satisfactory care in a nursing home. (St. John's in Rochester, NY). She also received frequent visits from friends and family and others. I'm not understanding what could have happened to your father.

    1. I think they said they were able to take care of Alzheimer's patients, but they weren't. So when he was trouble, they left him in a back corner and more or less ignored him. My sister found him that way, but it was too late. But my mom had also signed something waving responsibility, and that was the mischief. As for nursing homes in general, both my mom and sister had worked in them for many years, my mom volunteered for years later. But when its yours that gets burned, it gives a different perspective.

    2. I think they said they were able to take care of Alzheimer's patients, but they weren't.

      Taking care of Alzheimer's patients is a bog standard component of a nursing home's repertoire.

    3. Technically the Nursing Homes we surveyed back then had specific wards and expertise for dealing with that. Some didn't and told us up front. What we didn't like was the fact that 1) clearly they didn't have anyone trained to do that and 2) they told us they did.

  2. 'Women in the Workplace: What the Hell Were They Thinking?'

    About 1/3 of the formal sector workforce was female in 1957 and about 1/4 was in 1930. In 1930, north of 20% of the population was making a living in agriculture. Farm wives are busy people.

    1. That's why I was careful to say in the workplace. I grew in farm country, so know the job of the farm worker. Heck, just staying home is full time work. But I've done both, and I can say I wonder what women were thinking. Not that some didn't have to, and that was the case for decades. But the flood that began to occur in the last half of the 20th to just get women into the workplace because makes me wonder.

    2. The female share of the formal sector workforce increased from 33% (in 1957) to about 46% (in 1995). Note, in 1957, the majority of women were married by their 21st birthday and the attrition rate of extant marriages was such that you could project that about 20% would end in divorce. By and large, these were married women working.

      1. Technological changes making housework less onerous.

      2. Technological changes in industrial processes and diffusion of industrial knowledge. This changed the mix of labor demand away from industry and in favor of services.

      3. Changes in private transportation costs which altered the distribution of employment in metropolitan settlements and allowed more flexible commuting.

      4. Changes in preferences in re the number of children which satisfied parents.

      All of these would have had a permissive effect on women's employment quite apart from the social propaganda to which you're referring.

      Note also the business executive who is supposed to have said "50% of my advertising budget is wasted; I just don't know which half". Read the period reactions of Erma Bombeck and Joan Didion to the feminist discourse of 1970. People like Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Susan Brownmiller often did not resonate even with college-educated bourgeois who were earning a living themselves.

    3. My experience has been that many of the women I've worked with would happily stay home, but can't. Because society has shifted quite a bit in those years. Today the majority of women - including mothers - work, and that's a massive shift from 33% (whether that included part time or just full time, and whether it was just working moms or all women then, I don't know). I know as a youngster it was easier to find work at home moms out in the neighborhoods than you find today. That, too, has no doubt had an impact. Given what's happening among our children today, it's hard to believe it's all been a positive one.

    4. Technology made housework easier, which made many women's lives boaring and without perpose. As a result, many women entered to workforce, thinking it would provide them with that perpose. Those women became numerous and began pressuring other women into joining them. Now a number of women regret this movement, but it's too late

    5. Technology made housework easier, which made many women's lives boaring and without perpose. As a result, many women entered to workforce, thinking it would provide them with that perpose. Those women became numerous and began pressuring other women into joining them. Now a number of women regret this movement, but it's too late

      Both Erma Bombeck and (surprisingly) Marilyn French provided a critique of 1950s domesticity wherein the tasks of a housewife grew more involuted as they grew less onerous. Although writing fiction, French made the point with greater clarity. And it's a reasonable point to make. Simplifying the household routine, redistributing tasks to other members, and having a work-a-day job of some sort may be closer to a personal and social optimum than 1950s domesticity, at least for some women. Bombeck was at age 27 ready to be a f/t housewife. When her youngest was school age, she landed a job at a suburban newspaper (she having been a reporter from 1949 to 1954), and part of the reason what that her daily routine was leaving her miserable. Now, Bombeck was a woman of sanguine temperament. For other sorts of women, changing your routine wasn't going to address your dissatisfaction. It would just alter the menu of things which caused subjective irritation.

      NB, if you look at the occupational categories which comprise roughly 70% of the working population, I suspect you'll find one of two phenomena: (1) the ratio of men to women hasn't changed much since 1957 or (2) the ratio has changed, but only because women have established a small but unimportant beach-head (i.e. the ratio changed from 100:1 to 25:1). Now as then, food service, janitorial work, and light industry have ample numbers of women; any other sort of dirty-hands job will be performed by men 95% of the time. Now as then, you find an ample supply of men in retail sales; otherwise clerical work is done by women 95% of the time.

      The changes have been in professional, administrative, and supervisory employment, the more radical the higher you go in the occupational strata. Of course, these were available for women of my mother's generation, but seldom sought because the assumption was that professional women were celibates, and that's not the life they wanted for themselves even if they had the option of attending professional school.

      I should remark on something else: the use of the public sector as a toy theatre for the social fantasies of politicians and others. So you have measure to pump up the number of women in protective services, which requires relaxing performance standards and mangling institutional cultures. The actual provision of protective services suffers. In a sane world, women in law enforcement would be civilian support staff, plainclothes investigators with special skills, and jail matrons. Women in the military would hold analogous positions, sometimes as civilian auxilliaries, occasionally in uniform. We live in clown world.

  3. God bless you all!

  4. I'm so thankful my sisters are able to care for my parents - my dad is still in pretty good health, but my mom's health has been steadily declining over the past several years and I think he would be overwhelmed trying to look after her and everything else on his own. And they get to watch my sister's kids grow up, which I know brings them a lot of joy. Caring for your mom is a gift to her and your sons as well, but I know it's not easy - prayers for you all!

    1. Thank you. Yes, family is key. I've tried to instil that in our sons. Whatever else you have in the world, you'll always have family.


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