This past weekend I made a very long trip in a very small car and lived to tell about it.
My father lives five hours away. He refuses to move where it is easier for us to see to his care, and at 78, with emphysema, he is in need of care. Right now he depends on the cleaning lady that comes every Monday, as well as the preacher and two or three friends.
But things have gotten worse health-wise of late.
He's to the point where rising from a chair is almost more than he can do. He's wobbly, and for a man who is 6'3" and probably well over 300 lbs., that's dangerous. He has a walker, but he refuses to use it in the house or where anyone can see him. I think it's more a matter of pride than anything else.
Even with all of his problems, he still refuses to consider moving closer to us or to an assisted-living apartment. He insists he doesn't want to be "a burden" to his children. When I suggest that it's much more of a burden to have us drive five hours each way just to spend a few hours with him, he changes the subject. I know he doesn't want to leave what has become his home these past fourteen years, truly I do. But I also realize he can't continue to live there much longer without much more assistance than he's getting now.
Because of this, I have contacted his county's social services for the aging to see what is available for him in the way of an "HELP!-I'VE-FALLEN-AND-I-CAN'T-GET-UP" bracelet for him to wear. He has a cell phone that he keeps in his pocket, but it would require him to dial a number to reach anyone. With the way he shakes due to his medications, it would be a miracle if he could dial the phone. If he could get an emergency bracelet, all he'd have to do is push one button for help.
Taking care of elderly parents is not something I'd wish on my kids, especially from a long distance. Better we ride off into the sunset on an equally aged horse, and all of us croak at the same time.
I am not one for long goodbyes.