The funny thing about this experience is that there are only two times in my life when I have felt so unprepared. The first was when they handed me my son after he was born and the second was when I got the phone call that my dad had fallen and was in the hospital in Iowa…and I was living in Pennsylvania. The difference between the two scenarios is that in the first, I had a 9 month advance notice that this baby was going to be handed to me to care for and with this most recent scenario, I had zero notice. I thought I was doing everything right. We had the talk about advance directives, he had all the appropriate power of attorney paperwork drafted and appointed me as his health care proxy. Of course, he never really explained fully what that meant. I knew that I would be making health care decisions for him, should he be incapacitated and yada yada yada….the funny thing is, is that the state of denial is a very long river and I was on a long long cruise. I assumed my dad would just drop dead one night, as my mother had when I was 27. He even told me that was his plan.
Best laid plans. Instead, he is living in a memory care unit for people with dementia and needs a very high level of care just to manage his activities of daily living (eating, dressing, bathing, taking medicine). His body is fairly healthy for an almost 89 year old guy. His mind, however, is slowly fading from us. Each day I try to assess who the guy is in front of me. Will he remember who people are? Some days he does and other days, he has no idea. When is it my turn to be forgotten, I wonder.