The final passage of parents
The final passage of parents
Two of my older sisters are currently housed in rehab and nursing facilities. Their conditions continue to improve, so they are in the right place. The struggle, for their children, is sometimes difficult. Older people want to be in their own home and in their own bed. They do not take kindly to being left amongst strangers, however caring the staff is. Powerful recuperative drugs skew their perceptions. The actions, of the unwilling residents of these fine recuperative places, can place a large strain on families. You don’t really feel that you have the authority to order your mom or dad to be quiet, lie back and recover, when they want to be at home in their own bed. It is a curious reversal of the parent- child relationship, where the person in authority shifts back and forth.
It brought to mind the struggles with my own father’s passage, from many years ago. He was then suffering from the after-effects of a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Dad, someone strong of will, didn’t want to be in the hospital. After a few days, he even managed an unauthorized escape back to his South Buffalo home, a few blocks away. After a few days, he was returned to Mercy Hospital, suffering from heart failure and other debilitating effects of his illness. This time, even in extremis, he definitely did want to be there. Especially, in the ICU, where he was being treated. He caused such a ruckus, that the Hospital management told us, his family, that we had to have a family member sit by his bed in ICU- 24/7, or they would have to move him out.
His children dutifully sat by his bed-side and attempted to calm his drug-skewed nerves. Sometimes we were successful, sometimes we weren’t. Even in his weakened state, dad could be a handful. One night, late in the day, as I sat next to his bed, Dad woke up in an agitated state. He looked over at me and said in an angry manner “I am going die here and it is your fault.” Okay, I thought. Even knowing that the drugs were skewing his opinions and perceptions, that one hurt. It was only a few days later that the end came. Dad had passed on at age 61.
The experience, with Mary’s Father, was similar. Late in his eighties and suffering from Alzheimer’s, Bob Walsh didn’t want to be in the hospital either. His strong reactions got him tied to the wheel chair, to restrain him. He remained that way for a week until the illness finally took him away.
These aren’t horror stories, nor are they particular to us. Every family goes through this. It is a painful rite of passage, where an aged and infirm parent passes into the great beyond. It is never easy. It puts a huge amount of strain on those family members easing the passage. Still in fairness, the parents themselves went through quite a few struggles raising and launching these same children into life. They are owed the effort needed to help them ease from this one.
I write this missive for perspicacity. When you are locked in one of those emotion-laden struggles, it seems like the world sits heavy upon your shoulders. Take heart. It will soon end and your much-loved parent will be eased into the great beyond. And you will feel better about yourself for having helped them so lovingly at their end. And, others will afford you the respect and admiration that you deserve. You can but hope that some will do the same for you.
Vaya Con Dios, older loved ones. We will be with you shortly
Joseph Xavier Martin