Where’s my guidebook?


I did it. I made the day trip down to my dad’s house and lived to tell about it and I did it without my handy dandy guidebook.  What?  There is no guidebook?  We are writing it as we go? What kind of  ridiculous nonsense do you speak of??  Didn’t Frommer write up something on this for me?

You will need some history before I proceed with the chapter I wrote in my personal guidebook on Saturday: My parents are divorced and my dad remarried 12 years ago (give or take).   Somewhere along the line that marriage fell apart (I will save my angry, anti-2nd wife stories for another day) and she left him in January of this year.  Her departure left my dad without a caretaker and with a lot of anger and confusion.  The emotional toll is huge and continues to grow as the separation papers go back and forth — with dad having little understanding of the process and feeling little control.  How’s that for adding insult to injury?

In comes my brother, sister, and I to put on the  “caretakers” costume – a costume that is not easily removed.  One of us is down at his house weekly.  We are slowly moving towards hiring someone to help and implementing all sorts of change my dad is resistant to implementing.  This is an ongoing, murky, slow journey.

So in an effort to do what a hypothetical guidebook might tell me to do, I set a limit with dad this weekend.  When I arrived, he immediately brought out the separation papers and shared his (lack of) understanding of things.  My dad believes the papers say things such as he will leave all of his things to her heirs, that she wants to take the windows, etc and etc.  Wish I was exaggerating.  Initially I tried to explain him out of the confusion he is in, but when he says over and over, “Thats not how I read it,” I eventually had to say, “Dad, you don’t understand it and you have to trust that we would never let those things happen!”  Trust me, I said it in a firm but caring way. 

Should I have done that? I have no freaking clue!  As I said, there is no guidebook and certainly not a chapter on dealing with someone halfway between reality and NeverNeverLand.  He is so functional sometimes and we try to respect him as a grown adult, but then he is so confused sometimes that we have to put our collective feet down. I know I am not supposed to argue with him but I can’t let him stew in his own confusion…can I?  Anybody?  Where’s my guidebook?

By the way, after my firm statements (yes, there was another one shortly after this), we had a great day. My daughter loves to be at her grandpa’s house and we got to go to the pool! See, I should write a guidbook if I can make that great day happen after such a miserable start!


2 thoughts on “Where’s my guidebook?

  1. I cannot comment on your dad’s wife. My mum had a different kind of dementia which included paranoia and depression, but for the time she was living here with us my own health suffered a rapid decline. It was not until my sisters took over for a week that they realised the stress I was under, My brother flew over from the States and was truly shocked just visiting her — she just ignored him, this the son she had always loved so dearly and often spoke to me about during my visits (all nonsense of course). She did not know him any more than she knew us. Love is taken to its upper limits of endurance. Questions are asked repeatedly but answers never accepted. Explanations are not accepted either. Had it not been for a fall which brought about the need for twenty-four hour nursing-home care I might well have been hospitalised myself. I visited her every day and wept every day. I was powerless to help her out of her prison of mental pain — a true hell.
    I would never sit in judgement of anyone who could not cope with a caring role. A considerable amount of support is needed but it does not always happen. In a group I started for carers (before my mother came to live with us) there were wonderful people who struggled to keep their loved ones at home but this rarely happened once the sufferer became aggressive. Even so, once in care the spouse visited every day. This too takes love and devotion as the essential ‘person’ who responds in familiar ways is no longer there. It may take time to reach that point but it does come.

  2. I have also spent time wondering about that guide book. But my experience, with first one and then the other parent, tells me that no two trips are the same. I do know that it is important that you take good care of yourself on this trip.

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