My dad has been living at the VA facility in Menlo Park for the past couple of years. I try to visit every couple of months. I drive up from Pasadena, pick him up at Menlo Park then drive to his real home in Salinas, about nine hours in the car. I stay for a grueling five days. With my mother we are 24 hour a day nurses, cooks, physical therapists, a son and a wife. We feed him, bathe him and try to engage him both physically and mentally. By the time I take him back we are completely exhausted. Much of my parents’ daily worries fall on the shoulders of my sister, Liz, who lives nearby in Santa Cruz. She takes care of my parents’ bills, doctor appointments, long term care plans, taxes…pretty much everything my father used to take care of. When I’m not there, my sister and mother visit my father several times a week. But he still cries when I take him back to Menlo Park and have to leave him there. It really breaks my heart that I can’t keep him at home and care for him as he cared for us when we were children.
I know we’ll never regret the moments we spend together even under such stressful conditions. And, we even try to celebrate occasionally, like my father’s 77th birthday with my sister and mother.
Happy 77th birthday!