Dealing with Dad. Caretaking of Dad after Mom has passed.
In this blog series, I attempt to capture our journey after Mom has passed.
Mom was born May 1, 1944, and passed away (said goodbye to earth as said in Khmer) on April 10, 2023. Often, Dad had prayed that God would not take Mom first. Well, she had suffered long enough. In his mercy, it was her time. She told me in a conversation, on March 17th that she was ready to go home. As I look back, she had been suffering since December 2022, as we could trace but probably further along. Mom was the caretaker for Dad. Short of driving and picking up medication, she did the meal planning, preparing, and cooking. She picked up quite literally after him; especially in this last year (maybe longer) she had to clean up as his bodily functions were below typical and beginning to slow down or become unaware. For parents and caretaking folks: this is bathroom talk. Yes, he began missing cues like pee and poo. This is very forward, yes but it is the things of life. Dad is 81.
With the exception of a handful of days or so, Dad has been with me since March 22. Dad, oh Dad, I wish I could have a very back-and-forth conversation with him like I did with Mom.
Dad reminds me that Mom was the vocal, verbal one. She was the extrovert and he the introvert. Dad is a bit more routine and systematic, in my opinion, and Mom was the go-with-the-flow. I do recall in these last three years she talked about gut issues (probably occurring for a long time). However, fast forward to March 20th, the gut issues were related to thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer that was metastisized and spread. CT scan showed cancer in the throat (mass in the throat) and it spread to the lungs, liver, stomach, and back if I recall viewing it with Dr. Lum. Heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking!
Onward about Dad: he refers ramen and coffee in the morning. I have added fruit and milk to the regimen (I ask throughout the day, would you like some milk or metamucil?). Dad takes a shower just about once a day or every other day if he hadn’t missed cues. Dad listens to the Bible in the morning either before breakfast, or with breakfast. He then has breakfast, he waters the plants, and watches animals on Netflix. We are trying to get him to call friends or family once a week. Dad gets out about three times a week for things like a drive, fishing, a small nature walk, or errands. He’s a trooper. Dad calls himself Bong sometimes forgetting that he’s talking to his daughter and probably because of 1) habit 2) misses his dear wife who took great care of him. Dad has a clock with the day, time, and date. Dad has a recliner in his room. His clothes are hung up. He has a drawer for extra shorts and socks. He likes to wear a jacket. I keep the house cool so he doesn’t overheat. He likes a nice overshirt or a jacket but keeps on his shorts: they’re just convenient for him. Dad wears sandals like slippers in the home. I think they keep him grounded.
Plants Dad has asked for fig and herbs. We have mint we have to regrow. We have lemongrass, too. He said to have pails/containers for each so you can just add a bottle with small holes as they’re easier to maintain (efficient).
Taking care of Dad has been rewarding and a great time for us to bond. He tells stories here and there. He joins us in the living room and sits to watch the kids. Intermittently he falls asleep.
Dad has noticed how bright and cool, temperature-wise, my house can be. Also…how loud it is…initially this bothered him greatly, but he seems to let it go or has adapted. Now, it’s the dogs. He complains about them. He says that they get into his room, but he doesn’t like it. We are doing our best to train the pups and we are also training them to stay out of Th’a’s room.
Well, that’s the log for now. join me again in a few days when I collect more Days with Day: grief journaling after Mom has passed and I take care of Dad. I share things that I think give me insight to who Dad is, how we’re so alike (traits passed to me and my siblings), and how he’s doing after his best friend and partner of just about 58 years has passed on.