Sunday, April 10, 2011


Being a caregiver is not for the feint of heart, nor for those who have a hard heart.
To be a caregiver to my parents is a lot like when I first became a parent. Before Will came home I thought that I would have a baby and just go on with my life. I had NO idea, and no one could adequately prepare me for how my life was going to change. No one knows.
It is the same with moving home to be with my parents. 

I didn't know how heartbreaking it would be to watch my dad have to be assisted to get in and out of his chair, or watch him shuffle, bent over while slowly make his way across the room or around their apartment. I didn't realize that when I see him asleep at the table that I would find myself wanting to do ANYTHING it took to wake him up so he would eat. The times that he wakes up, is alert and talking is such a relief and a joy. Never mind that half the time he can hardly put a sentence together that makes sense, and other times he is wry and funny.  He is my dad and I love him.

There are days when I think I just can't do this any more, it is too hard watching my dad slowly fade away into a shell of himself. But this is something I really don't want to miss out on. This learning how to love in a whole new way.

When we were kids growing up I was afraid of his temper and when he would lash out in frustration - but that changed and I learned how to push back when he would be mean and thoughtless. What I learned was that if I challenged him and said I didn't like the way he talked to me or my sons - he always backed down and apologized. 

So we all grow up - no matter how old we become.

September 2008
One of the things I feel sad about is that my sons are not getting to spend time with dad before he is gone. Then again, they get to remember Grandad the way he was when they could sit and talk about stuff like the marines or current events, or how great the Huckabee show is on Sunday night TV.

When I think of my dad now, it is of him sleeping in his chair with his face in his hand, or shuffling down the hall with his walker.

I've seen the faces of some of the other residents when I sit with dad or help him get around. They usually give me smiles of encouragement. They can see his struggle and mine, as I try to help him keep his dignity as long as possible.

This is a long haul ride, watching him slowly lose his balance and his memory, and I wrote earlier, it take heart to keep supporting him. My brother Gale helps so much with keeping Dad's dignity intact. He comes to shave dad almost every day and helps him get up and walking about. I think that Dad will eventually forget who the rest of us are, but he will remember Gale, and Gale's tenderness and loyalty far longer than anyone else. Lucky Gale.

At some point the dementia/Alzheimers will erase his memory completely, but for now, he is still grateful for every day and every person who cares for him. I'm trying to learn from him the same kind of thankfulness.
And so I'm the lucky one now.


I'll write about my mother some other time. But not now.

Friday, April 8, 2011

2011 a new year

The last time I posted was a year ago. So much happened in 2010 that I don't know exactly where to start, but I will attempt to just list things, then maybe I'll be better about this year. When I started this blog I thought it would be a way to keep my family members up to date on my parents. So much for that idea. :-)

2010: Spent a GREAT amount of money on caregivers coming to the house to be with mom and dad while I was at work.  It was expensive, but worth it. However I still had to get over my shock at having to help my dad in the bathroom and shower. Actually we both had to get over our unease. And we did. Dad is a trooper.
Then my wonderful brother announced that he was leaving the priesthood after 35 years. WOW. The following Sunday I took my parents to Portland for his last mass. It was a beautiful, moving, sad, bittersweet, happy day for all. My dad loved every minute of it. End of April saw us all moving them into the Corvallis Caring Place (Assisted Living) where they are now.
Dad has been up and down with our struggle to keep him hydrated.  He was in and out of the hospital last summer and even spent 5 weeks at a rehab place. That was a mistake. Dehydration is our biggest challenge with him. But when he gets enough fluids, he has more energy and is awake and will walk MUCH better.  Why can't the doctors see this? Why can't I see it? I was so afraid he'd had a stroke, when he just needed to be fed and watered. sigh.
Mom has struggled with the Caring Place. I don't think it is quite what she expected. Her memory went downhill also as has her spirits. They get pretty good care there, but there is nothing for her bitterness and disappointment with life.
When mom and dad moved out I stayed here in the house and spent the rest of the year trying to make it my home, but still keep much of mom and dad's presence. So far I think I've succeeded.
Thanks to my dear friend Cheryl, I've learned how to lay laminate flooring and now two bedrooms that were filled with stained carpet are now clean floors.
Tom and Tia were married in November and it was the first time in years that all my brothers and sisters were together.

My brother Bruce passed away 3 years ago, but his widow, my sister in law was with us. I'm so very glad she came! 
The Farley bunch November 2010

The Farley bunch plus!

The Farley bunch with new addition (and Charlie!)

The year ended with me flat on the couch sick for a whole week. But with that I got to watch the complete first season of Modern Family and Glee.
In the middle of all of this, my youngest son Jake graduated from St. Olaf (I got to be there by webcast) and my oldest son Will spent the summer in England. I miss them both and am so grateful that they are my sons.
I started working mostly from home in December and found it is okay. A little isolating, but I look out the back window at a bird feeder and watched winter go by.
That about sums up 2010. Lots of changes both good and sad, but always always interesting...
Some kind of life eh?