Dad's moving home
" Something's not right. I think I might have had a stroke" my Dad spoke to me with frustration in his voice.
"Why are you saying that?" I replied concerned I was going to have to call 911.
"I can't remember anything or where I put stuff. I'm never like this."
The thing that made me not worry by this analysis was that my 92-year-old father had just moved in with my family two weeks before. Everything in his life had suddenly been turned upside down in his world. I never thought my father would live to see this ripe old age.
He lived in a beat up old trailer; but he owned it and loved being there because it made him comfortable. He had friends in the trailer park. He had a routine that he followed every day and he was happy. But over time that trailer started showing more wear and tear than I could keep up with. A broken window here, a leaky roof there, and pretty soon the stairs were giving out and the whole place was starting to sink within itself.
My husband and I decided to give my dad a new trailer so he could live out the rest of his days in something clean and new. Now we had to pack up 30 some years of memories and might I just say it: hoarding! My father is from the Depression era, and like my mom when she was alive, they never threw anything away. Thankfully, I have a sweet daughter who is so good with her grandparents. Dominique went over every paper and receipt with her "Papa" so he could feel safe during this big change that was about to happen.
But there was definitely stress. I could feel and see it in his face. He also never failed to mention to me how hard this was and how he would never do this again. I laughingly replied to him that he probably wouldn't do it again because he wouldn't be around that long. I know that the end result would be a comfortable, shiny new place for him to live, but he was miserable during this change.Here are some things I learned and am still learning as we go through this transition:
Stay calm. Your parent will be stressed for the both of you. You don't want to get into bickering battles right now. Just keep reassuring them that you love them and will take care of everything so they don't have to worry.
It's a good time to go through things they don't need. Go slow. Don't be in a rush to throw everything that you see as junk and toss it in the trash. It may give them comfort. My dad has a few ugly stuffed animals that personally I would dispose of ASAP. But they make him laugh and he likes seeing them. So they went in the box for storage and we will find a place for them in his new home.
When your parent comes to your home to live, whether temporarily or permanently, find a routine within your own home. I had a basket on the kitchen counter so he could easily find his medicines. I cleared a shelf in the pantry so he could put all his favorite snacks and grab something to eat whenever he wanted.
In the spare room which was now his for the time, I made sure there was closet space for his clothes, a TV if he wanted to retreat to his room for privacy (but he really loves watching with us in the living room!) Fluffy pillows and enough blankets because older people get cold really easy.
We are still learning to live with each other, and actually it has been fun to take care of my dad on a daily basis again. There are moments when I miss my privacy, but I know this is temporary and soon I will be cooking a fun meal in his new home. So my dad wasn't having a stroke. He is confused because his routine has been mightily changed and he is struggling with it for now. And I reassure him that I am here and he is fine.
The blessing from all of this? I have found tons of reminders that my father has a spiritual side. They were all over his house. It spoke to me loudly. He does believe. He prays with us at dinnertime every night. He holds our hands and says "Amen." I will ask him to bring God into his heart before his last breath. I feel God's grace all around him. My two fathers are in this house and I love them both.