After that time, Mom was only around for 5 short years, and I miss her. Dad and I got more acquainted than we'd ever been. He has helped me in so many ways - whether it was mowing grass, building a giant leaf-collector, or helping bury my pets. We've talked about politics (even when we disagree), finances (all about municipal bonds), and after I finally told him why Ray left, he drew the conclusion that "gay people must be born that way." His understanding, although it went against all he'd known previously, was HUGE. It has helped me to know he was trying to understand both me and Ray. The talks we've had have made it possible that I'm closer to Dad than I ever was as a kid.
While Dad used to fix almost anything in his garage, he now has an electric scooter to get around, and walking over to my house for dinner is out of the question. At age 90, Dad is basically healthy, and he used to stand nearly six feet tall - even was imposing to some - he's now at least six inches shorter. Macular degeneration has claimed one eye, and damaged the other. He can no longer get around his home without a walker or cane, and preventing falls is continually a concern. He has fallen, and twice he's been alone for hours before he could call someone for help.
My house is pretty big just for one person. Maybe not laid out too well, because there is no bedroom on the main floor, and I have two steps up to the kitchen, down to the living room, and a whole, long flight of stairs up to other bedrooms or to the basement. It was never a serious solution to have him live in my house, but it did cross my mind. Altogether, and for many reasons, my dad gave up his driving last summer, reluctantly abandoned plans to winter in Texas, and investigated "a respite" (for 3 months) in the assisted living apartment complex. Whether it will be permanent depends on how Dad gets along, and I hope he's happy at the new place.
Yesterday was the big move, and my brother, Lee, had orchestrated most of the move. He did such a good job of getting Dad's paperwork done, getting the required tests accomplished, arranging to have a truck, and organizing what Dad needed to take.
My other brother, Kenny, sister, Nancy, and I were all around to pitch in, plus we hired young people to haul the furniture to a truck. At one point I heard Dad say, "There were enough people helping me that they could have just carried everything here." By evening - with a few more trips back and forth from house to apartment - Dad was set up. His bedroom looks amazingly like his bedroom from home, the cable TV is working, and neighbors have stopped to make friends. I hope he likes it, I hope he makes friends, and he mentioned, "I might find a girlfriend."
All this goes on, and I woke up today with a big ache, and all the while I was ignoring the fact that I can go and come as I please - ignoring the fact that I can see Dad whenever I stop by his place - ignoring the reality that my kids are all nearby - ignoring the fact that I've got health and strength on my side - and really, ignoring the fact that this is a good move for Dad.
I just missed having Dad right next door. I felt so alone, and I miss him. The emptiness of not having my dad for my neighbor just makes me hurt and cry like a wound has been scraped open. I sure hope Dad isn't feeling alone, dumped or abandoned. I know it is a safe place for him, but I'm aching the loss. I don't want him to fail. I don't want Dad to be old.
|Winter 2011 - some of the family joined Dad for a visit on So. Padre Island.|