The One Thing We’re All Afraid of…and Why It’s Kinda Inevitable
We can’t keep pretending that this fate is (allegedly) reserved for women without children
“This isn’t how I thought the end of my life would go,” my father said, recently.
I share his sentiment, but can only imagine his emotional distress.
My father had a stroke in 2010 that left him partially paralyzed. In subsequent years, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and his eyesight has significantly deteriorated. Between the paralysis and Parkinson’s, just getting out of his chair each day is a struggle. He needs assistance going to the bathroom, showering, and even walking across the room.
And because of his diminishing sight, he can barely operate anything around him. He can’t see the buttons on his TV’s remote control. He can’t text anyone or even identify who is calling him when his phone rings. And he can’t read his own mail.
His body is shutting him in. Eventually, he will likely be blind and will no longer be able to get out of bed, at all. It’s a horror movie unfolding in front of my eyes that I can hardly bear to witness.
It all got worse a couple months ago when my brother, Levi, got a new job. That might not sound like something that would affect my father in any way. But you see, Levi used to be the executive director at the assisted living facility in which my father lives. In fact, the only reason my father agreed to go into assisted living in the first place was because he would be able to see Levi regularly.
My father never wanted to end up spending his last years in assisted living. Who does? But what choice do we have? He needs constant care, far beyond what any of his six children can provide. Further, four out of six of us cannot or choose not to be involved with his care…so my father has to settle for the scraps of care that Levi and I give him.
Now that Levi is working in another facility, my father no longer gets to see a family member every day. At best, it’s once a week.
He has become increasingly depressed in his isolation. He asked Levi, “How long do you think I have? When do you think I’ll finally die?”