Learning to Be Present While Fighting for Your Father
January 11, 2019 10:37 AM   Subscribe

When they lose my father’s medicines in the days and weeks, then months, to come, I demand emergency provisions. When it is clear that the wrong pills and the wrong doses have been slipped into the treatment, I am not easily consoled. When they accidentally bring my father someone else’s cure, I am aggressively self-righteous. When the meals that are delivered aren’t the meals my father wants, I knock to the front of farmer’s market lines so that I can hurry back to him with something he might like. An essay by Beth Kephart for Catapult.

When there are bills to write, I write the bills; when there are calls to make, I make the calls; when the therapists and the aides and the nurses are kind, I bring them books, I bring them flowers, I bring them cookies; and when something goes wrong and then another thing goes wrong and when, now, no fault of his own, no forgiving this scenario, my father is newly quarantined, I declare, superhero style, To hell with quarantine. And show up. And do not don the quarantine gown, the quarantine gloves, the quarantine mask. And insist with my questions, until I get the news we must have, so that I can carry it back to my father, who lies in his bed and asks if, perhaps, I can just sit, if, perhaps, I can quiet now and be.

But this is his life I am defending.

This is his life, and I am turning:




Drought complexioned.

When fighting on behalf of the father you love, who do you become?
posted by Bella Donna (10 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Such a beautiful piece. She is so good at describing the complexity of feelings one has. After he stopped driving, I scratched my dad's car. The guilt. He didn't really forgive me, but he also did. He fell, and I carried him back to bed. I never knew I could do such a thing.
These days I'm feeling really bad because my mother is in a bad way. I'm not as close to my mum as I was to my dad, but the daily phone calls to doctors, nurses, care-centers, neighbors are all taking their toll on me and I haven't really slept for days. So lovely to read this and remember we all go through this in many ways, but always complex ways.
posted by mumimor at 10:52 AM on January 11 [17 favorites]

Hang in there, mumimor. This is hard stuff.

The essay's ending, which I will not reveal, really spoke to me. I want that experience with my ill dad. I am not going to get it. Still, it was a lovely essay and I was happy to read it.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:01 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]

That was so GOOD and I needed that!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:16 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

I am sick with a cold, and it’s nearly ten years since my semi-estranged father’s sudden death. This hit me harder than I expected.

But I have a purring cat on my lap, and a glass of tea, and that’s okay.
posted by kwaller at 12:52 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]

God dammit I will someday learn not to read essays about living in the moment with older, ill, dying parents at work but today is not that day.

This was beautiful.
posted by FritoKAL at 1:26 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]

It's so weird that when something horrible is happening in your life, it seems to pop up everywhere.
posted by 41swans at 3:24 PM on January 11 [9 favorites]

so much better than that recent sedaris piece.
posted by 20 year lurk at 3:49 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

Thank you for this-as the only child local to my parents (and the oldest girl), I'm currently supporting my mother through cancer, my father through end stage COPD and preparing to move my grandmother with dementia into our home since my parents can't care for her any longer. I recognize the "fighting for my loved one" situation, since I feel like I spend 6-7 hours a day either in a doctors office, calling a doctors office, arguing with a doctors office or taking care of the mundane everyday tasks that they can't handle anymore.

I'm very lucky in that I have a supportive spouse and friends, but I do sometimes stop and realize I'm frowning or holding my breath while I scurry around trying to put out fires all around my life. I'm negotiating end of life care for 2 generations while still raising a teenager, which is sometimes very disorienting.
posted by hollygoheavy at 6:17 PM on January 11 [10 favorites]

hollygoheavy, I cannot even imagine how that is.

Sending good thoughts.
posted by allthinky at 5:58 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]

I didn't think I'd ever shave my father, or put in his dentures or feed him because he could no longer do any of those things himself. I never imagined there would come a time when those things would be impossible for him. But that time came and I did those things.
posted by tommasz at 12:14 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]

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