My Dad and I have always been close. He and I have banded together as a defense against the condescending control freak I refer to as “Mom” and whom he refers to as “Wife.” He retired last year and I’ve been out of work for a while so he and I have spent even more time together. I’ve noticed that my dad, my hero, the man I’ve always idolized is starting to decline in subtle ways.
I don’t know why older men always seem to lose their hearing, but my Dad is no exception. He can’t help it, but it’s so frustrating to have to repeat yourself constantly. Then he gets mad when you yell. “You don’t have to yell! Yes Dad, I do if you’re going to hear me. He won’t go get his ears checked unless Mom arranges it for him. She’s been in the nursing profession all of her life so he will only go to doctors she recommends. He needs his ears cleaned, and he probably needs hearing aids, but hell will freeze over if I wait on him to do something about it. I may take his insurance card and see if I can’t find a Dr for him and arrange it myself.
Don’t even get me started on his driving. He scares the ever loving hell out of me. Today he drove through a drive thru the wrong way. I shit you not. I’m screaming, “Get out of the drive thru! Get out of the fucking drive thru!” And he’s completely oblivious. Then he gets mad at me because I’m freaking out. Apparently because we got lucky and no one turned the corner and crashed with us, it’s ok that he went the wrong way through the drive thru and I’m totally over-reacting. Apparently the embarrassment of a head on collision in a fast food drive thru is no big issue for him.
In addition to his appalling lack of navigational ability, he’s losing his depth perception. He only has one good eye, and it has a mild cataract but he runs up on cars and slams on the breaks at the last second. He also loves to tailgate. When I start to work the imaginary passenger break, he gets mad. “I’ve never had an accident!” he yells at me. “There’s a first time for everything!” I yell back.
He also just flat forgets where he is and what he’s doing. I find myself giving him directions to places we go all the time. If I don’t. he’ll just start chatting away and become completely oblivious to everything around him. Again he gets mad at me for this but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve missed turns or gone the wrong way because he just forgot what he was doing.
The man loves technology. He wants every new gadget that comes on the market – but he doesn’t know how to work any of it. I’m not some 12 year old technophile, but I can generally figure out the basics. Not him. I went with him to a Dr’s appointment the other day and left him in charge of navigating since I was driving. That was a big mistake. He couldn’t work the navi on the cell phone. I’d had it turned on when I handed it to him but he touched the screen and turned it off by accident. Then he couldn’t figure out how to turn it back on, I’m trying to drive in bumper to bumper traffic, having no clue where the hell I am and he’s yelling at me.
Since I’m not working I can’t go anywhere or do anything without him tagging along and he’s driving me insane. I love the man dearly but lately I’ve started to feel more like I’m babysitting a child than hanging out with my Dad. I know it’s horrible to complain. He’s been there for me all my life, and there will come a day when he’s gone, and I’ll dearly wish he was still following me around and driving me crazy.
I guess this is just one of many frustrations that I needed to vent, and having done so, I feel better. If anyone else is struggling with the care of an aging parent, drop me a line. I’ll be happy to listen.