Ten Years Ago, Age 58 Part II

I sat down with my Father alone to discuss what he wanted. Sean had taken a trip to the cafeteria, while Kevin sat outside the sliding glass doors of my Father’s room. Over the last two days of our visit, my Father’s health had improved. The doctors were now saying he had a month, maybe 2 or 3 and we would have to look at a nursing home to care for him. I knew about nursing homes and had visited them many times before to see my Great Grandmother. My Father was 58, he wasn’t old enough for a nursing home and I couldn’t place him there 3,000 miles away to die. Without discussing this with anyone I made a deal with my Father that moment, I would have to deal with the logistics later. He of course had different things to discuss first. He was watching Kevin through the glass, without looking at me he asked, “So, he’s gay huh?” I was taken back for a moment. Kevin had come out to us as a family a few months earlier. I looked out at Kevin who was sitting on the floor, wearing a black long sleeve t-shirt which had Asian inspired dragons on the sleeves, “Thats what he tells me.” “He looks very gay in that shirt.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little, before explaining it was my fault-I bought it for him. My Father then asked if Kevin would be okay. I said I thought so.  With the tension of the conversation broken by my Father’s question it was easier for me to continue. It got quiet for a moment before I asked him simply if he wanted to come home, to Massachusetts. He said he did. I told him I would make it happen, but he had to be well enough to walk on a plane for me. I could only do it, if he could get on a regular 747 or whatever and fly cross-country home. I would deal with the doctors, the house, whatever but he needed to give me time and he had to be well enough to make it home. He said he could do that. That night I called my Mother. I think I cried. I told her he wanted to come home and that I couldn’t put him in a home. I couldn’t do that to him. She understood. She had cared for my Great Grandmother and my Grandfather until she couldn’t anymore. She said she would help us make it happen.

Sean left California before Kevin and I. I think we had a fight at one point, I honestly don’t remember. Kevin and I stayed for another few days and made plans with my Uncle. Kevin and I would fly home. I would stay and arrange things in Massachusetts, while Kevin would get the things he needed and return to California to help care for my Father. He along with my Uncle, my cousins Stephen and Paul would take care of our Father until I could get things ready.

My Uncle Kenny, Aunt Betty, My Dad & Uncle Jerry

Getting prepared in my case, meant getting our house ready. My Family’s Raised Ranch style house was full with little or no room to spare. While I was in college, my Grandmother had moved in with my parents and when my parents started their separation I moved back home to help with the mortgage. My Mother and I started with cleaning out part of the basement, with the plan of building a room for my Father’s return. The cleaning out part, though hard work was the easiest part of this whole process. Luckily for me part of the basement has already been wired with electricity, which meant that wasn’t something I had to worry about however I did have to learn everything I could about constructing walls, hanging a door and dry walling. My Mother and I would work all day and spend several hours a night working on the room downstairs. Friends of mine came and assisted on weekends, and even Sean laid the laminate floor. While this was going on, Kevin was in California with my Father. He would accompany him on trips to the doctors with my Jerry and Stephen. He became his main caregiver. Hospice was established in California and would continue once he moved to Massachusetts. Though my Father’s condition had improved prior to my leaving there was a great deal of pressure for me to get things done as quickly as possible before he slide downhill again. Though there were concerns from California the main pressure came from Massachusetts. Our cousins on Cape Cod, wanted more of a say in the decision making process. They felt that we were dragging our feet and that they should take control, bringing my Father to the Cape immediately to care of him.  At no time did they offer to assist with the preparations in Mansfield, even with several of my cousins being professional carpenters. By mid-March we were ready for his arrival.  My Father and Kevin would be coming on Saturday, March 17th St. Patrick’s Day.

Sean, Dad, Me & Kevin

Being pre-9/11, the trip was much easier on all of us. Kevin, my Uncle Jerry and Father with the help of a wheelchair boarded a plane in San Francisco for Boston, while Sean and I drove into Boston to pick them up. My Father’s Doctor in Massachusetts had arranged for Caritas Hospice at our house. They had delivered a hospital bed, walker, wheelechair and portable commode. Kevin was bringing medication from California and Hospice there. In my Father’s luggage was 9 bottles Morphine Oral and one in his carry-on for pain during travel. Landing in Logan, a wheelchair was brought to the gate to help him to the car. He was met at the gate (you could still do that then) by Sean, myself, my Aunt Betty and Cousin Sharon (I don’t recall if there was anyone else with us). My Uncle was going to see us safely to our car and was heading back to California on a later flight. While Kevin, Sean and Jerry took care of the luggage with the Porter that was assisting us, my Father visited with his sister Betty and niece Sharon. I was asked to find him some juice so he could take some morphine to prepare for the transition to the car. On my return, my Father took a bottle of Morphine Oral from his bag, took a “big swig” and drank the apple juice I found. This medication wasn’t strictly monitored, he tended to take it when he needed it and I don’t think measurements were a priority. I remember Kevin being very protective of my Father on his return. I think the weeks of caring for him, he had learned a lot. He knew my Father’s limits and what he was capable of doing without assistance.

On the ride home from Logan, I apologized for every pot hole, bump or imperfection in the road from Boston to Mansfield. He kept telling me to stop saying sorry. In Mansfield he walked himself into the house where we had grown up. It would be the last time he did that without assistance. We had arranged the small bedroom upstairs for him. This meant everything was on the same floor and we would not have to worry about him doing the stairs unless we had to take him to an appointment. That evening in celebration of my Father’s return and my 26th birthday we had a small party with friends. My Father came out of his room, where he had been watching television with my Mother to say hello and enjoy a little cake before going to bed. Over the course of the next 22 days my Father would slowly slip from our world.

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~ by Cute Fan Girl on April 1, 2011.

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