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Bringing Dad Home
Photo: Tadeusz Turski
When Darlene’s mother lay in the hospital with an incurable lung disease in 2006, she watched her dad age quickly in just two-weeks’ time. He had difficulty walking, and seemed confused, disoriented—and lost. His companion of 58 years was slipping away, and every part of his being felt it.

When death finally did come, Darlene asked herself, “What would God have me do?” She knew without a doubt: she needed to bring Dad home to live with her and her family.

Although she’d never tell someone else which personal choice to make, this was right for her. Yet questions flooded her mind: “How can I possibly do this? How will my own family adjust to the change? Dad is used to Mom waiting on him—will he let go of that era and help care for himself?” In addition to these questions was the looming one: “How could Dad, deaf since childhood, survive in a hearing home?”

As children we take classes in school. When we become young adults, we take pre-marital classes. Then we move on to childbirth classes and classes on how to be good parents. But there aren’t classes to prepare us to slowly, or suddenly, become our parent’s caregivers. To turn the table and have them come to live in our home—a home that’s already set up to function just the way it is, with its own schedule, rules, and rhythm. But at a young age, Darlene says that she was taught to “honor your father and your mother.” And to her, that meant bringing Dad home the day her mom died. Her family agreed.

Challenges Began Right Away

They gave up their spare room and bathroom and made it his. He had a place at the table with the rest of the family. But the challenges began right away. Darlene found she could hardly go anywhere without someone at home to watch Dad. On top of taking care of her family and job, doctors’ appointments needed to be made and kept; medications needed to be given on time; extra clothes needed to be wash. Darlene felt responsible to keep her dad active and to find his purpose in life. And then there were his odd habits like using too much toilet paper, over-salting foods that had already been salted, and a never-ending sweet tooth. Sometimes he missed the toilet, but because of worsening macular degeneration, he didn’t know it. Mentally he was not the same dad he used to be.

Is it hard? Yes. Does Darlene feel overwhelmed and frustrated some days? Yes indeed. But she doesn’t regret her decision.

Nowdays, her dad sits quietly and doesn’t engage in much. He’s dependent on others for most things. He’s slow, so much patience is needed. Yet Darlene says that someday she may come home from work and find that he’s fallen; or perhaps one morning he won’t wake up for breakfast. And on that day, she’ll be glad that she brought Dad home.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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