(Part 1 of a series)
2023 is nearly upon us.
So much has happened, so much has changed in the last 3 years for us all. For me personally, and for my husband and family, bringing dad home to have him live with us here at the farm tops our list. He may have eventually needed to move here anyway, but the events of early 2020 clearly sped up that timeline. The memory of the day I picked him up from our family home, Thursday, March19 is etched clearly in my mind. I walked in with resolve. I was going to need it.
“Daddy, you have to come back to the farm with me. We are packing a bag. We are going right now.“
He didn’t want to go. “No, I don’t think we need to do that.” He looked at me with squinted eyes, clearly puzzled at my insistence. “Let’s wait a few days first,” he suggested. But I knew that wasn’t going to work. It was March 2020, Covid was changing everything. He watched me with curiosity and tried several times to change my mind.
It wasn’t going to happen. He was going to get in the car before he could dig his heels in and refuse.
For years, since 2016 when Mama died, I had already been a caregiver from afar, pre-cooking all of Dad’s meals, delivering them, taking care of any doctor appointment, grocery shopping and bills and taxes and home repair, all of those things, but I was still counting on daily afternoon visits from home health elder care providers. I was relying upon them to heat up my homemade organic, nutritious food- I needed them to take out the trash and basically provide a general eyes on check in for the days I had sessions scheduled or could not drive into town from the farm. As I walked around his house tossing in socks and t-shirts and his razor and toothbrush I remained firm. “No Daddy, really, we do not have a choice, you have to come back to the farm with me and we have to leave NOW.”
There were simply no more senior care providers willing to work. Home health aids were quick casualties of the pandemic. CNAs (Certified Nurse Assistants) quit in droves. And who could blame them? At the time so little was known or understood about what was upon us. Care homes were in the news as hot spots. Suddenly people were afraid of the elderly.
Driving us back to the farm Dad was quiet as I made a mental list of what I needed to do get another bedroom ready. Our farm house isn’t at all spacious and all rooms were being used in one way or another. The only appropriate room for Dad was the room I had just finished turning into my media/recording room. The one that I had carefully set up to record class videos and YouTube interviews. It was the only room that made sense. What had just been done needed undoing.
Clearing out that room in a single afternoon was a huge task. I made a big pile of equipment and files and books and such in the hallway and then drug a spare mattress and frame up from the basement and just like that, Dad, at age 89, began to live with us.
A big fact in this story is that, in almost three years until just this past Christmas, Dad did not visit or even drive past our family home in all that time. I “wouldn’t “let” him near the house and property. I wasn’t trying to be mean, but I didn’t want him to try to “go back home,” and try to live alone again. He was healthier and happier at the farm and began to thrive. He pretty quickly gained 15 valuable pounds!
But, of all the traumas 2020 wrought in our life, uprooting my dad from the land and trees and wildlife he loved so much was top of the list. Bringing another adult into our home required a huge adjustment. It was the right thing to do, but I was then, and I am now, quite aware of the emotional jolt experienced by us all. Me, my husband, and of course my Dad, would have to begin to live daily life in a different way.
(Part two tomorrow)