Life Before Death

This trip to Florida will end up, sadly, mostly spent taking my 95-year old dad around to doctors’ appointments and running other errands. He’s in assisted living now which, as near as I can tell, means he’s on his own except that nurses bring him his meds, check on him a few times a day, and are available at the end of a pull-chord should he fall (and be able to get to it!).

Medicare won’t allow these particular nurses to do anything really except administer the meds so, in order to have a couple of wounds treated (one, a bed sore developed when he was in the hospital; the other an elbow scrape sustained in a fall) he has to contract with an outside health care agency for which he pays extra and who visit him a few times a week.

He can get transportation to appointments and such and will have to do so when I head back to Iowa, but it’s a hassle and takes all day to get transported to and from the docs and to hang out in their waiting rooms for what seems an interminable length of time. Just so much easier, when I’m here, to drive him myself and maybe take him out for a meal to break the monotony of the dining room service in his assisted living facility.

It’s not much of an existence for one who has had such a long and active life. Former Air Force pilot, architect and banker, boat owner and faithful churchman. All of that is gone how, including his beloved “Maggie,” wife and best friend for 72 years until her death a few years ago. Like so many elders, my dad really wishes it was over, but the will to live is still mostly there and so he faces the endless days largely alone and making lists of things he needs to do.

There are, of course, activities provided but he’s never been much of a “joiner” and, apart from the occasional bingo game, does not participate in many of them. He’s not able to concentrate enough to enjoy reading, TV is mostly awful, and his hearing is so bad (even with hearing aids) that carrying on an extended conversation with his few friends proves difficult if not impossible.

He keeps a sense of (sometimes “gallows”) humor, calling Bishop’s Glen where he lives “Sing Sing” (“It’s walled in, they lock us in at night, and we’re here for a life sentence!”). And he gruffly maintains that no one should live past 80…85 at most. “Four sets of 20,” he growls,” 20 years to grow up and get educated; 20 years to advance in your chosen work; 20 years to enjoy your success; 20 years in retirement, and then you’re done. If I was running things, that’s the way it would work!”

Looking at his lot in life now, I can’t say that I disagree.

Except that I just turned 70!

2 Responses to “Life Before Death”

  1. Scott Elliott Says:

    Your Dad sounds a lot like my Dad, who died three years ago, at 97. May the last act in his passion play be fuller than mine.

  2. Annie Hochhausen Says:

    I so appreciate you sharing your thoughts. There is much to learn, listening to life experiences. I wish you and your Dad both peace and moments of joy. You being with him means a lot, and I am sure gives him a moment of joy every time he sees you.

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