Family Drama

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Just to set the stage so you can appreciate the story to follow, my father has now been living alone for two years. Well not alone because he has the three cats and that will become an important factor. He lives in a small town so our options for services are limited. There are neighbors and friends around but it is also a town that gets lots of snow in the winter and that makes getting through the winters the hardest part.

My younger brother took the lead after Mom died to get him set up with assistance so we do have someone who comes in for a couple of hours on weekdays to cook and do his laundry and other assorted things. This has left a gap on the weekends which has been difficult to deal with. Part of it is just his refusal to try to learn things like the microwave. But then that has been consistent throughout the years. I can remember a few times when Mom was going to be away and she’d make up and freeze something with detailed instructions and he’d pull it out, look at it, and then tell us we were going for take out.

I know it is complicated by his vision which he’s been losing for many years. Plus his hearing is really starting to go along with some short term memory issues. And he’s gotten a lot more frail the last two years. But he’s not capable of driving so, if there aren’t any friends or neighbors around, he spends most weekends alone with the cats.

He’s been on a waiting list for an assisted living facility in town but its a small place so openings don’t show up that often. But a couple of weeks ago, when my older brother was in town, he said something about it being time for him to move.

Well that set off a flurry of activity because you don’t just move someone into assisted living. My brother took him to the place and they sat with an administrator and answered all his questions. They still didn’t have an opening in the main area but did have a spot open in the memory care unit. Not ideal but he’d at least have access to meals on weekends and would be eligible to use the ride service that exists to get him to and from appointments.

But, somewhere along the way, the lines of communication seriously broke down. My brothers took this as a mission to get him moved in no matter what. That was the goal and so they started assigning tasks and looking into what it would take and we were all sure this was the right thing. No plans to sell the house so he’d always have that as a fall back option.

Trouble is that in Dad’s mind, he was still only considering it. He didn’t like the room because it was smaller and there was no shower. It required an aide to take you to and from the shower. Plus there was the issue of the cats. The place was willing to let him keep all three but he started to worry about having them in a small place because people come to clean the room and he was concerned about that stressing the cats.

At one point, we discussed keeping the cats in the house until he was settled and finding a pet sitter to come and deal with them. But, as it turns out, he really wasn’t looking for solutions. Even though he signed the papers, he ended up deciding that moving was not the right thing. This is after we had a move in date all set for this weekend.

I was not up there as this was going down. But it lead to some tension between my brothers and Dad. There were other attempts to deal with the weekend issue and get him more help but it was still the same problem. My brothers (mostly my younger) were trying to solve issues without involving Dad and he resented it. Eventually, they left and there were some words. It happens.

Well I called on Saturday just to see what was going on but there was some glitch with his phone and he couldn’t hear me and every time he tried to put the phone on speaker, he ended up muting his line so I couldn’t hear him. It was comical.

Then he called last night to vent. And, to be fair, the stuff I’ve put in this post about his reactions were all things I first heard about last night. I got only the one side of the story which was that he was all set to move in and we just had to figure out the remaining issues. Not that he didn’t want to move into the smaller space because he wasn’t sure it was really improving his life. And that in decisions about his quality of life, he should be involved. Can’t say I disagree with that. I know that at this stage in his life, it is hard to truly involve him. He needs time to ask questions – sometimes the same question over and over again- and to weigh the pros and cons.

And it isn’t like my brother is totally wrong here either. I mean he does things that he thinks are going to help. Kind of the wrong thing but done for the right reasons.

This is not the first time I’ve been the one who gets these phone calls. Part of the problem is that Pop will often just lash out at my younger brother instead of having a calm conversation. That leads nowhere. And then he calls me to have someone to sound off to. Probably because I’m actually listen to him. But I end up trying to play the diplomat.

And this is why is sometimes sucks to be an INFP. At our best, we are able to listen without judging. So if someone needs to vent and to hear that they weren’t 100% wrong, we make a good listening post. The ironic thing is that he’s turning to me for emotional support which is not something he’s been good at providing. Maybe that’s more sad than ironic.

That’s been the background drama for the last couple of weeks.

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