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Father’s Day & Transitions

Recently my siblings and I moved my dad into an assisted living facility. It was time and we all knew it. He now has several serious health issues that require a lot of monitoring, but it was still hard to move him out the home he’s lived in for over 50 years, the home I spent my teenage years and beyond in. It’s another one of those major life transitions. When my oldest sister left to go back to her home in Tennessee following a recent visit to Minnesota, she sent me a text message that said:

Before I left, I walked through the house one more time knowing it was the last time I’d see it as I know it. That was hard. Things will just never be the same.

No kidding.

This is the way life works.

Life is one long series of transitions. Some are happy. Some are not.

If you were to make a timeline of your life, undoubtedly, the significant markers on it would be dates of major transitions, right?

Many transitions involve letting go, adapting, adjusting, accepting, learning, growing, grieving, and yes, weeping.

Many transitions bring loss and tears. But thankfully, many also bring the opposite.

As we moved my dad into his new residence (a spacious studio apartment which I like very much AND in which dogs are allowed – a primary consideration in my family, btw), I still couldn’t help but wonder if he felt we were letting him down just a bit. I’m envious of families that care for their oldest members within their very own walls.

When I was a young girl, my friends across the street lived in a big old house with three levels and lots and lots of rooms and in a couple of those rooms, their grandpa resided. He seemed really old to me, I mean really old. I was afraid of him for some reason, but probably for no other than the fact that he was old and I was not. But I also sensed there was something very special about my friends having the privilege of their grandpa living with them. They were lucky and somehow I knew that.

None of us love my dad any less because he’s not living under one of our roofs, of course. But it was, and still is, hard to leave him in such a strange, unfamiliar place where we must trust others to look out for him when we cannot. For that reason, and many others, goodbyes are harder now.

Kind of surprisingly, my dad is adjusting remarkably well in his new surroundings. But then again, he’s never been one to complain. He’s settling in. He’s making friends. He’s adapting. He’s transitioning. We all are.

It’s hard. But it’s also wonderful.

My dad is almost 90 years old, an almost magical number of years to live some might say. And they’d be right.

As transitions go, this one feels pretty major for us all, but especially for my dad.

But he transitions. As do my I.

I’m so proud of you, Dad.

I always have been.

Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

Are you a caregiver for a loved one, or have you ever been one?

Have you had to place a parent, or other loved one, in a care facility of some sort?

Would you like to share something about you dad?

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My dad and me
My dad and daughter #3 – me.

 

11 thoughts to “Father’s Day & Transitions”

  1. Hi Nancy,

    I’m sorry your dad has so many health issues. He is lucky to have such a loving family. I’m glad this transition is going as well as it can.

    As you know, my dad entered a nursing home in April. And it is so difficult emotionally, a transition that none of us wanted to see, but it had to be. He cannot take care of himself, and my mom cannot take care of it. Live-in aides are too expensive. There really was no choice.

    My dad oddly seems happy to be in this home, which specializes in dementia. I’ll be honest: it’s depressing for me to be there, and so depressing to see how my dad has declined. I just try to take one day at a time and try not to dwell. But it’s difficult.

    I know your dad knows you all love him. Parents just know these things, I think.

    1. Beth, I know you understand exactly what my family is going through here too. And it helps. I’m glad your dad seems happy in his new home that specializes in dementia. Taking it one day at a time seems like good advice for all of us. Thank you for reading and sharing, Beth. xx

  2. Around the time I was diagnosed (April 2015) my beloved mother-in-law at age 89 suffered a fall from a stroke that required her to be placed in a rehab facility for a period of several months. Thankfully her cognitive abilities never diminished but she came to the conclusion that she could not return to her home. She has six sons all who along with wives and grandchildren faithfully visited with her and helped her while she was living alone. She still drove herself to the grocery store and the beauty shop just before this happened. My husband and myself while dealing with our own concerns were very thankful we had the time to find an assisted living place for her. The transition was relatively smooth and I am so very thankful that it was this way. She was able to help us go through her home and we enjoyed a very nice journey down memory lane as she carefully remembered her things, such as a pressure cooker and all the wonderful things she prepared with it. I am a hobbyist photographer and I was able to photograph her home and her beautiful yard (this was her hobby) and keep it for posterity. Walking through that kitchen and up those steps the last few times will linger in my memory forever. The assisted living place we found ended up being a perfect fit and she transitioned well. It was close by and easy for all of us to drop in and visit. They truly treated her like family. Times like this are difficult and not always easy but like she did in life she always thought about her kids first and for her this was her decision which made it easier for all of us. In addition to residual symptoms from the stroke she had osteoporosis and in March developed developed a spinal fracture while turning over in bed. The pain was significant and medical intervention would have entailed another long recovery with physical therapy and such. After much discussion she elected to begin hospice care and she passed away in March. Her pain and suffering have eased. She lived her life to the fullest but aging and the difficulties associated with it left her frustrated at times. I miss her terribly but as I went through my course of treatment she was always encouraging to me and we had the ability to take the time to speak the things to each other that meant the most. Both her and I had a sharp perspective on the importance of things in our life. Wishing you the best as you transition to this new spot in your life.

    1. Sandy, Thank you so much for sharing about your beloved mother-in-law and about your family’s experience placing her in an assisted living facility. It sounds like she was a lovely woman and I’m sure she felt very loved. I’m sorry she’s gone now. I love that you photographed her home and back yard. Your images will be such wonderful treasures for your entire family. Thanks again for sharing and thank you for the kind words about my family’s time of transition.

  3. Nancy, I am sorry your dad has been having issues with his health. I know you’ve been there for him as much as you possibly can. Still, I understand how difficult this must be for you. And I agree life is one long series of transitions. I know some are necessary because they’re just part of life. Others are forced into our lives during a time when we least expect it.

    I am glad your dad is adjusting well with this new transition. I think part of it is because he knows how much he’s loved. I hope you find comfort in knowing you each have been kind and loving towards each other.

  4. My biological father was not part of my life. I met him for the first time when I was 26. One thing I can say about him is that he was honest when he answered all my questions. I appreciated the fact that I got my truth from him although it was disappointing.

    My grandfather was my real dad as he helped my grandma raise me. He was a hard-working man (a farmer) and very quiet. He hardly ever spoke to any of us but when he did his words meant a lot. I was not too close to him because I often misunderstood his silence. When he passed away my family found a small briefcase with his treasures — things he considered to be important. Among those treasures were a picture of me and a letter I had written to him when I moved to the U.S. I got my truth from him too and I am grateful. Happy Father’s Day grandpa/dad. You’re missed.

    1. Rebecca, I’m glad your biological father was honest with you, although it sounds like hearing truths was painful for you at the same time and I’m sorry about that. Thank you for sharing about your grandfather. How sweet that he saved that picture and the letter from you, treasures for sure. Finding that briefcase must have been very special indeed.

  5. My mother put my father in a nursing home on August 10th, and it has been absolutely unbearable. He is so beyond lonely and sad, but it is 1 1/2 hours away, so I can’t be with him every day. He has dementia, but he is in a VA nursing home that does not have a memory care unit, so he is in a unit with men who suffer from PTSD. My father is terrified of these other residents, they get in bed with him when he’s asleep at night, and the staff have to come and get them, it’s beyond horrible. I’m so glad you like where your Dad is! I’m looking forward to reading your book. 🙂

    1. Victoria, I’m sorry about your father’s situation. It must be so hard for you all. My heart goes out to you. It’s too bad the VA nursing home doesn’t have a memory care unit and it’s beyond sad that your father is terrified. So unacceptable. Every person deserves top-notch quality care at EOL – throughout life for that matter. I am lucky to like the place my dad is. As his care needs change, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to stay long term, but I hope so. Thank you for sharing about your dad and for saying you’re looking forward to reading my book.

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