Goodbye, House

This entire week has been challenging, to say the least, on many, many levels. Not the least of which was family-involved.

Those reading my blog for a period of time know that my father has been traumatized by a number of medical conditions over the years. He has had five major open-thoracic operations within about a three year span. He had colon cancer twice yielding two huge tumors, two colostomies, then two resections. Followed by an operation for an aneurism. He has a stint in one of his arteries. Recently, he was diagnosed with leukemia.

But he’s a man of The Greatest Generation and he was tougher than tough. Yes, we were forced to place him into a skilled nursing facility on three prior occasions, but he managed to fight his way out every time by sheer determination. He became mobile and was able to go back home, despite having lost his wife and my mother in 2002 to COPD linked with smoking. He has reached the age of 88 by sheer force of will.

In seeking his independence, however, he became increasingly less stable. A few falls and, recently, I determined he couldn’t even walk. He essentially stopped eating and couldn’t take care of himself personally. I saw this, spoke to my brothers, and decided that I couldn’t trust Dad to be in the house all by himself without very close monitoring, 24/7.

Yesterday, I had to place him in a nursing home. And it cuts me to the quick. I feel like the worst possible betrayer, a bad son, and it literally tears my heart.

Unfortunately, it is the same nursing home from which my grandmother passed away in 1979, but it’s close to the house and “in the community” so to speak, and they remembered him from his past association there.

It killed me to see my father prostrated in bed at home, in huge amounts of pain, unable to move or gain a bathroom. He was self-medicating and no one could assure that he wasn’t under- or over-medicating himself. And it pained me further to see the look on his face when I broke the news of his having to lose his home, his car, his neighborhood, his independence.

So it was that on a cool, clear day, yesterday, that my brother and I had to lift him bodily on the seat of his walker, out to my car.

He sat quietly in my idling car, parked in the driveway of his first and only home, where he and his wife had lived since 1947, where my two brothers and I had been raised, where he was a leader in the military and had attained the rank of full bird Colonel in the United States Air Force, where he was able to retire, where he and his wife enjoyed friends, family, Thanksgivings, Christmases, seen their grandchildren grow and attend college . . .

He turned and, in a small voice, looked through the window and said: “Goodbye, house.”

My heart is about to burst.

BZ

32 thoughts on “Goodbye, House

  1. I wish your father and you, his family only the best.

    It’s so sad and hard to see our parents go through this but it also becomes a time for children to give back for all they have done for us.

    Stay strong.

  2. It is for the best for your father. What you did is hard, I’ve had to do the same thing with my mom. The memories of the house and the good times there will always be with you and your family.
    Hang in there

  3. BZ,

    My heart goes out to ya man.

    About 4 years ago I helped a good friend move his Grandmother from Carthage, MO to Corpus Cristi, TX. She had lived in the house since the day she was married close to 60 years ago. And with your Dad, my friends Grandmother and Grandfather, practically the town Optometrist, where leaders in the community.

    As with your Dad in the past, she has regained some of her mobility, redeveloped a joy for life as she could now freely interact with peers, where she became almost a prisoner in her own home.

    My good friend, 34 at the time, his Mom, Dad, and Aunt only new of that house in Carthage as her home. To that I have great envy, in these times, that kind of stability seems to be rare. But in the day that her most prized where packed in a rental truck for her moved she stayed strong, it was her grown children who in fact where sadden the most.

    I am by no means smartest man alive, far from, but it is very apparent from your words you are taking care of your family in the best way possible. And I sincerely hope your father continues to fight to enjoy his life.

    Tom

  4. I’ve been through it. There is no one in my birth family who is still living. It’s got to be hard on you, BZ, but you are doing the right thing. He’ll be far more comfortable there, and I’m sure you will be visiting him often.

    Blessings.

  5. Wow, that was hard to keep the tears back. I will pray for you and your family, for his comfort in this time and for you and your brothers in having to do what was right for you dad. It is hard from what I have heard when you have to make that decision any way you look at it.

  6. BZ, It would probably rate as one of the hardest things you have done. I felt for ya as I read the words you wrote. At times like this we are reminded of just how human we are … I was reminded back in 2005, never forget it.

    God Bless all of you

  7. You have my undiluted sympathy as I could well be making the same choice with my brothers very soon. My Dad is a fighter but he appears to be weakening and the strain on my brother who lives closest to him and my Mother is getting to be too much. You did it because you love your father and need to do what’s best for him. You made the hard decision and have no reason to feel guilty.

  8. Thank you all. I visited Dad this afternoon and, in one day, he just wasn’t the same man from the day before. It just kills me. It simply kills me. All the things I could have, would have, should have, simply flash before my eyes.

    I can remember, now, him telling me maybe 20 years ago and, perhaps it was self-serving then but is revealed to be so true now: “my Dad passed away and I wish I’d gotten to know him better, but I was doing so many other things.”

    So true with me. And so guilty.

    BZ

  9. I thought about you and your father all day, many times it brought tears to my eyes.

    I miss my father so much.

    It’s called life and this is what we as children do. They were there when we came in to this World, It’s up to us to be there when they leave this World.

    It’s not easy, it’s called life and you’re not alone, remember that.

  10. But Ranando, it’s just so hard. Thank you for your words, but they are words and these are my thoughts and they can’t change how he lives. I suppose I could say now: no one, we are, no one is alone.

    But I feel so completely isolated.

    He is my father, but he is so not what I expected. Perhaps so de-rigeur for me, but so completely opposite for me.

    BZ

  11. My heart goes out to you. My wife and I have each had accumulating ailments to the stage that we were driving past a nursing home yesterday and she turned to me and said “If I have my mental faculties please don’t let me go to one of those places”. I returned with “I have been worried about you coping with me if my mind keeps slipping, and was about to suggest that if my mind goes, you put me in that place”. She smiled and said “Well we have to worry about each other and about ourselves, so we’ll just have to keep hanging on and quit worrying.”

    Yep

    Hang in there.

  12. From what I have read from your writings BZ it seems that your father has raised a son with a good head on his shoulders.

    Just remember to cherish the memories and don’t live with any guilt. We all do the best we can with what we have, and the only thing our parents want from us is our love.

  13. Lonerider, Christopher Hamilton, 3S10, McCainPalin: sorry, I forgot my manners; thank you so much for stopping by, welcome aboard, good to see you and please come back to visit any time and all the time.

    BZ

  14. 11 07 08

    BZ:
    I am praying for you and your father. I am saddened that he is in pain. But also heartened that he has YOU on his side. You are a good son and are doing what truly is in his best interests. I have seen my elderly family members lose independence over the years and die of various illnesses. But one thing they always appreciate is when someone is looking out for them. Your father knows that you love him.

    He has always sounded like such a wonderful and strong man. They don’t make men like that anymore for damned sure. I will continue to pray for your family and hope that he can find happiness in his new dwelling and that the people there treat him with respect and dignity.

    OTOH, it is good that he is in the community too. You will be able to check up on him on a regular basis.

    Much better than you guys living in other states.

  15. Mr. Z – It has been my fate that parting has happened quickly but without warning for each grandmother and my father. It is good that your father can recognize this shift and has enough wit and mind for that. I wish I had been able to give a final good-bye to my father or either grandmother, but such was not to be.

    Even with the heartache, take each day and recognize that there is still some light left. Treat each time with those you love as special and fleeting, and each good-bye may be a last one. The joy while living gives solace once passed, and if you can show your love and give sweet good-byes, then do so.

    For one good-bye will be a last… and you will never know which one it is unless you are very, very lucky indeed.

  16. I am sorry and I say this sincerely, my heart breaks for your father and you, your brothers. You had no choice, he understands that, but it is not easy. It is never easy.

    G-d bless you and comfort you all BZ.

  17. BZ –

    This will mean next to nothing to you right now but I hope you remember it – your father understands. You have done what was necessary and if any group of people understand that, it is his generation.

    I’ll be praying for all of you and I will especially be praying that you find peace with your decision.

    And remember – memories go with us; they aren’t anchored to a place, not even a house as chock full of them as this one.

    cjh

  18. God bless you dude.

    I had to do this with my Mom recently. Very tough, but the best thing for her — she eventually realized this. Hopefully your Dad will do the same.

  19. What a sad situation. Sorry about the infirmity of your Dad but thank you for your caring. My wife and I had a similar situation with her Mother. We cared for her for two years then, when she needed 24 hour care, we put her in the closest nursing home, 21 miles away. Donna went to be with almost every day. I was still working so Donna had her own time during the day.
    I hope you won’t take this wrong but, reading your post, especially the ending, I could picture it as a movie. And what a touching ending to it,”Goodbye, house.”

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