Wow. June 20, 2010 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Sweet jesus, this is some depressing thread. Happy Father's day everyone, I hope you all can find some way through it. I'm sending you all a hug.
posted by nevercalm to MetaFilter-Related at 4:13 PM (48 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

yeah, I'll take that (((nevercalm)))

posted by toodleydoodley at 4:25 PM on June 20, 2010


Hugs over Internet Protocol
posted by hellojed at 4:33 PM on June 20, 2010 [11 favorites]

you wouldn't believe I've been using fax all these years
posted by grobstein at 4:53 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

If I want to get depressed I can do so with any number of tried and true recipes. There is no way I am going to read that New York Times story.
posted by bukvich at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'll take it as well.

I am having major issues with my dad being in a nursing home, hooked up to tubes and all. I think it's impacted me in a lot of ways that I haven't even noticed. Certainly one of them has been being an ass in comments here.

Thanks for this.

My hugs to all going thru similar things and their loved ones as well.

posted by Splunge at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

My 25 year-old ex-step son (ex-wife's child from her previous marriage) called me today to say happy father's day for the very first time ever. That felt really, really nice.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:07 PM on June 20, 2010 [10 favorites]

yeah, lemme not be greedy

(((alla yall)))
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:27 PM on June 20, 2010

Hugs to all today, for tomorrow we die.
posted by pentagoet at 5:47 PM on June 20, 2010

I read bitter old punk's devastating and moving comment and that was all I could handle of that thread. Hell, that might be all I can handle for the week.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:55 PM on June 20, 2010

I went to the cemetery to see my Dad today.

He told me to look up at the sky for him. He said if it were such a nice day and he were alive, the last place you'd catch him would be a cemetery.

Happy solstice, people. A joyous summer to all.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:57 PM on June 20, 2010 [5 favorites]

My grandmother is in her 90s, is a strong-willed and is generally a miserable, petty, mean woman, and lived until recently in a city about 5 hours away by car. She lived on her own, even though she was starting to drink heavily, stopped eating, and stopped taking her heart medication. In fact, she had at least one stroke, and often just collapsed in her house, covered in excrement. However, nothing could be done: she refused to move out of her house, and it was very time consuming to get the social workers and doctors to sign and ratify the documents that would state she was incapable of caring for herself. And so my parents, both in their late 60s themselves, would make the 10-12 hour round trip every weekend to go see her and take care of her affairs. Added to the mix was meddling by neighbours, petty theft, and even some fraud. It took the toll on my parents, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Finally my grandmother was admitted into a care home; eventually she was moved to our own city. It's been a great relief to my parents.

Anyone who says care homes are just warehouses for the elderly, who are left in these places to rot, is just dead wrong. My grandmother's quality of life has improved dramatically; my parents' quality of life has improved. I can't even imagine what it would have been like a generation or two ago when the wife or daughter would have to look after an aged parent, day after day after day.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:07 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

For a really great, uplifting (!) Father's Day story from someone who just recently lost his own father (!!) - Nick Kristof's column today
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:11 PM on June 20, 2010

Yeesh, BB, I missed that. Seriously people, how long has it been since you've hugged your BitterOldPunk? Because that's too long.

Note: Everyone needs a hug, especially BOP.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:16 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

((many good thoughts to fellow members of the dead parent(s) club))
posted by Wuggie Norple at 6:27 PM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

I read that thread while watching Up with my husband. Hugs to everybody, and kleenex too.
posted by immlass at 6:29 PM on June 20, 2010

Thanks for this. In a lot of ways, there aren't many people near me that I can really talk to about my dad. Not a lot of people that understand. It's good to know that you folks are here, and that the hugs are plentiful. There's so much I want to say, so much gratitude I'd like to express, but I've really got to stop and get myself collected. It wouldn't be good for the teacher to start crying in the middle of second year English. Still, thanks.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:44 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

My dad has late-stage Lou Gehrig's disease and I just "talked" to him, in that I called my house and spoke to him over speaker, while his home health aide let me know if he was smiling.

I am fairly certain he won't be here in two years; I wouldn't be surprised if he weren't here for the holiday next year. Fuck Father's Day, but the only thing worse than hearing my dad try (futilely) to talk hundreds of miles away would be him not being here, so I don't really know.
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:48 PM on June 20, 2010

When I read that article this morning it depressed the hell out of me. I was a bit reluctant about posting it at first, but I decided it was too powerful and important to not share.

My sympathies ((and hugs)) to those whose parents are also sick or deceased.
posted by homunculus at 6:48 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, that article was a difficult read, as was the thread. Both my parents died protracted, painful, degrading deaths, and I wish I had reason to believe mine will be substantially different, even with my best efforts up-front to prearrange a less awful exit. I'd echo BOP re: his wishes if he develops dementia, and I guess it would not be a bad idea, in my late 50s, to start lining up people who might be willing to take that on...
posted by Kat Allison at 6:51 PM on June 20, 2010

Hugs, everyone.

(Also, I swear to god it has taken me every ounce of strength I have to not go into a father's day thread and ask "is this something I would need a father to understand?")
posted by griphus at 7:23 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm the last of my family - my mom died fairly quickly of cancer, and my dad dropped dead while traveling in Scotland (and let me tell you, the confusion of an overseas death is so much far less than what we'd have dealt with if he'd had the same coronary incident in his home city). I am indescribably grateful for not having had to experience what the article's author or other MeFites have dealt with/are going through.

Still, I wonder whether, at the end of my own life, the people I choose to advocate for me will be allowed to do so. Certainly, the executive order signed earlier this spring that requires hospitals to allow access by loved ones who don't happen to be legally married to the patient is heartening, but when doctors can refuse to honor DNR wishes (as described in the article), it does make me think.

Much love to my fellow MeFites in what Wuggie Norple called the "dead parent(s) club" upthread a bit.
posted by catlet at 7:29 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine is in the late stages of ALS. To make a long story short, we had a "pact". Although she is married, she wanted me to administer certain sleep medication in large quantities when she thought that the time had come.

Although I agreed, the time came and went. I was ultimately relieved. I just don't know if I could have done it. As well, I don't know whether I would end up in jail. I'm sure her husband would not approve.

Instead, she does not want me to visit her, although we communicate via emails now. She doesn't blame me for not fulfilling my role. She's on a breather and has a nurse that bathes her and takes care of her needs.

I call the house these days to talk to her husband. He is in total denial. I am just waiting for the funeral.

I can not stand this shit. Why am I fine and my father and my best friend are essentially in flesh coffins?

Sorry. This is the only place that I can put this. I just feel that better people than me are suffering. And I can do nothing. Not a fucking thing.
posted by Splunge at 7:34 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

I consider myself blessed in that three of my four grandparents all lived very long, and remained lucid to the very last (the fourth, my paternal grandmother, had breast cancer). My longest-living grandparent, my maternal grandfather, lived to the age of 93, and while he was a little forgetful at the end, he would still often insist on telling everyone his favorite joke, speak fondly of my grandmother (a few weeks before he died, he told my mother he'd had a dream of their wedding day) and flirted with his care nurses.

My own father has had a couple minor health concerns over the past couple years - minor complictations from a colonoscopy first, and then a valve replacement a year later - and still remained his glorioiusly smart-ass self. I called home after one of these surgeries, not expecting he was home yet, and I wish I had a picture of my grin when I heard my father answer the phone, "Pete's Pool Room, can I help you?" I think I said, "well, Dad, if you're being a smart-ass, then I know you're okay."

Sometimes I am reminded just how very, very lucky I am.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:54 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

/quickly administers more hugs to ((((((((all)))))))))
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:55 PM on June 20, 2010

I miss my parents, but this past weekend I got to spend time with the people that took care of me after my parents were gone. I'm happy for that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:05 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is such a prescient topic for me, and the eldercare of parents is such an overwhelming topic that I'm afraid I just spilled my tale in that thread even though it wasn't particularly related. Apologies.

I do want to say though that one thing that has really helped me was years of reading on MeFi and the many people who have, in answering various questions and adding to various posts, shared stories of the struggles as parents age and die. While I don't have any peers dealing with the kind of issues I'm dealing with, I genuinely know that I'm not the first person to walk this path and I won't be the last.

So thanks to everyone who's shared a story about dealing with medical issues, care, and end of life. I'm very grateful.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:20 PM on June 20, 2010

Hey thanks for the hugs, y'all. But for real: I'm so much luckier than most people caring for a sick parent. I've got a great wife, good friends, the Best Cat Ever, the house is paid for, and mom for the most part is simply absent, not agitated. Things could be a whole helluva lot worse.

I appreciate the kind thoughts, and I kinda regret that my comment may have come off as a bit too "poor poor me". I'll be fine.

Now everybody go hug your dad and shotgun a beer.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:44 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Now everybody go hug your dad and shotgun a beer.

Hugged the Dad tonight and will have a beer in his and your honor in sixteen days.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:58 PM on June 20, 2010

Holy-- that was depressing. And stirring up memories. Hugs all around, especially to DarlingBri and BitterOldPunk. And to yodelingisfun, too. Hospices are fucking awesome. You are, too.
posted by _dario at 11:06 PM on June 20, 2010

This is such a prescient topic for me, and the eldercare of parents is such an overwhelming topic that I'm afraid I just spilled my tale in that thread even though it wasn't particularly related. Apologies.

I wasn't an active participant in the thread, but I didn't think your tale was out of place at all. Thank you for posting it.
posted by rjs at 11:16 PM on June 20, 2010

Here's a post elsewhere about a great father. It makes me feel warm, and proud of the man, for protecting his daughter. And it makes me very sad that he didn't survive.

I think pretty much any father would have done the same, but that doesn't take away from his heroism.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:34 AM on June 21, 2010

If it'll help, I have a happier story about end-of-life care and senile dementia. No, really.

So when I was younger, I spent a while working as a nursing home care assistant. This is minimum-wage, backbreaking and often upsetting work, but the people we looked after were wonderful.

One of the residents was a woman I'll call Alice. She was in her mid-nineties, a thin, frail woman with dark blue eyes and a fantastically mischievous smile. Alice's mind had started slipping down the long, awful slope of dementia some years ago; her short-term memory was poor, she couldn't remember her children's names, you needed to sit with her at meals to remind her to keep on eating after the first few forkfuls. Most of the time she lived in a dreamy world of memories from her past.

Usually, our residents had grown up in the local area, which was a market town in the north-west of England. They'd left school young, they'd worked in mills and factories and farms. Alice, it was pretty clear, had come from a different kind of world altogether. She spoke in a wonderfully rich, refined accent; she'd sit in a polite, almost regal way, hands folded politely in front of her, back always straight, head held high, carrying herself like a debutante from a finishing school. And the dementia that had been digging its claws into her brain for years had sent her right back to that world.

You'd walk past her in the living room sometimes, sat like a princess, and she'd call you over and ask you to remind the housemaids to look at the guest rooms, or tell James to bring the horses around to the front. (She could remember the names of all the servants, although I've since forgotten most; James was the man who looked after the horses, Mary was one of the maids, and there was a girl who worked in the kitchens who "told wicked stories," something Alice would always relate with an approving smirk.) She could even remember her first piano, and how much she'd loved learning to play it.

Dementia hadn't really harmed Alice's speech, and she loved talking about her life. If you asked her how she'd spent her weekend, she'd describe going down to the green to watch the boys play cricket, or going out for a ride in the park. (My absolute favourite was in response to "How was your evening, Alice?": "Wonderful, dear. We went out to a ball with three villains, and we had a wonderful time.") She was lively and animated, and smiling more often than not. She might not have been able to remember anything about the last sixty years of her life, but damn she was happy.

And it would end there, except that after she'd been living with us for a few months her son came to visit from abroad. Someone asked him where she'd grown up, and he said, well, here, the same town as all our other residents. She'd lived in a tiny house with eight brothers and sisters; she'd left school at fourteen to work in the mills. Horses? No, they'd never had horses. Servants? Lord, no. No fancy balls, no cricket on Sundays, no piano. The housemaids, the cook, the girl who worked in the kitchens? Never existed. "She never used to talk with that posh accent, either," he told us. "It's strange."

His theory was reincarnation. But I wonder how many years she'd been quietly daydreaming of a life like this; and now, when I picture Alice as a young woman, it's as a young woman walking to work for a twelve-hour shift in the mills, spinning a fantasy world inside her head of a life she knew she'd never get to live.

I loathe dementia. It's an ugly, awful thing that I dearly hope we can wipe out one day. But amidst all the lives it's wrecked, I'm glad at least that it gave Alice a gift like this.
posted by Catseye at 1:52 AM on June 21, 2010 [55 favorites]

Seriously people, how long has it been since you've hugged your BitterOldPunk? Because that's too long.

*gets up and goes looking*
posted by infini at 5:48 AM on June 21, 2010

God damn that was a depressing thread.
posted by chunking express at 8:05 AM on June 21, 2010

Here's what I wrote about my dad after he passed. I still miss him. I'm not a father myself, but my wonderful stepson and his family treat me as one, giving me gifts and cards handmade by my grandsons for Father's Day, which makes me happier than I can say. My warmest thoughts go out to all of you missing your dads, and to those of you who aren't: hug 'em while you've got 'em.
posted by languagehat at 8:18 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Bitter Old Punk's comment resonated with me more than I would have liked. My grandmother passed away in April of ALS. She was in a care facility for 3 years but my mom and grandfather went to be with her every single day, in shifts. They were afraid that due to her inability to speak, she would not be able to alert someone if something happened. My mom and I spoke about those feelings of wishing for the end, because the stress of watching someone slowly and painfully die is excruciating. However, the guilt over those feelings is just as hard to bear. I begged my mom for a long time to seek therapy until she finally agreed. Hugs to every single person going through this, especially for those of you who know the pain of seeing a loved one battle ALS.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:05 AM on June 21, 2010

griphus: (Also, I swear to god it has taken me every ounce of strength I have to not go into a father's day thread and ask "is this something I would need a father to understand?")

I know just what you mean. Father's Day is when I get irrationally annoyed with the man for disappearing, though most of the time I don't mind it much. Thus far my urge to find him has been balanced by fear of skeletons I might unearth by doing so. (Not least his own - I don't even know if he's alive.) Maybe I'll go through with it someday. But not today. Or tomorrow.
posted by cmyk at 10:07 AM on June 21, 2010

Since this is the *happy* father's day thread, I'll just share my day.

My boy is 14 months old. I don't get to see him enough, even after cutting back my work schedule when he was born. There's probably only been a dozen days where it was just him and me and most of those days have been a marathon of diapers, and feeding, and crying, and napping. I've always loved spending time with him, but now things are just starting to get good. He runs around, safely climbs on furniture and stairs, eats and sleeps at the same time as me, throws me the ball, sits quietly turning the pages while we read.

His mother was on call this past weekend and we barely saw her, so it was just me and the boy. I didn't talk to another adult for two days (except for a phone call to my own father). I spent all weekend in toddler-space, chasing each him on the carpet, kicking the soccer ball at the park, tickling him in my lap and laughing hysterically. Seriously, I love this kid with all my heart, more than I thought was possible. Best father's day ever.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:09 AM on June 21, 2010 [8 favorites]

Thank you, Catseye. That was beautiful.
posted by notswedish at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2010

I miss my dad so much. I miss his endless supply of jokes, his loving phone calls and messages, and his unfailing delivery of flowers and chocolates for every Valentine's Day and birthday. Here's how cool he was -- when they'd intubated him, which is the way he stayed until he died, his sense of humor and engagement kept right on ticking, expressed with hand gestures (thumbs up was a big one) and lots of funny faces to make everyone around him laugh.

I hate father's day, and mother's day for that matter, as I was always the kid with the youngest parents and cannot believe the unfairness of being one the first in my age group to lose both of mine. They were both funny and smart and tolerant and easy to talk to, and generally great.

But I will say that it was a gift that they were each living independently on their own at the time of their deaths and that both went so fast. My mom called an ambulance because her doctor ordered her to -- she was sure she'd be home right away, asking a friend to pack an overnight bag with a couple of days worth of items in it -- never foreseeing her cardiac arrest and death in the ER shortly after her ambulance arrived. And my dad went into the hospital for a cardiac stent, where he as usual made friends with everyone from the folks at the intake desk to his doctors, and died there within ten days after two increasingly unsuccessful bypass operations.

It is nice to have a place to tell folks these things. I try not to burden my poor husband and siblings, as they already had to live through these deaths and our mourning, and our shared gladness that my parents got to be themselves to the end.

All my best to everyone and yes, if your folks are still alive and doing well, I wish you many more the years of the same.
posted by bearwife at 1:03 PM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]

My otherwise healthy 70-ish parents recently had a confluence of events that would in some ways make you laugh - dad falls down because he insists on doing yard chores, hurts himself, but walks tools back to the shed and then back to the house because they could rust - and then needs surgery, and then falls down the stairs and injures the OTHER leg when my mother had some stitches come out from a biopsy. They had never ever been this ill, and it all happened at once. My family panicked; the siblings could not communicate, at all. We disagreed virulently on the type of care my parents wanted/needed. We did not speak for months.

And now I walk into their basement and think, what will I do when we have to clean up all of this garbage? I'll need a dozen of those GOT JUNK dumpsters in the backyard to get rid of it all. And how will we siblings communicate when it's *bad* when we couldn't do it when it was temporarily inconvenient. And what do my parents actually want, besides for my father telling me where he'd stored the folder with all the articles and clippings and notes about his awards and achievements, because as the writer, I am obviously the one to write the obituary for him. (I asked him if he wanted me to write it in advance, so he could approve it, but he changed the subject.)

The incident made me insist that Mr. M. and I fill out our powers of attorney and medical consent forms, because I realized that I cannot trust my siblings to do what I want should anything go wrong, and Mr. M. and I are not tying the knot just to ensure that that happens.

All of that is a long, long way of saying, thank you all of you for discussing this, in any way you have brought it here. Because I only have one friend I can talk about this with. Maybe I should have more. Maybe I should try to talk to them about it. Because it is a huge gaping hole that America does not talk about. You have helped me immeasurably.
posted by micawber at 1:12 PM on June 21, 2010

ah bearwife, your story touches me deeply on one of my deepest fears. that my parents are so far away and its only now that I've come to appreciate them for who they are and the legacy they have passed on to and the knowledge of our/their mortality sits with me even as somewhere deep inside there's a seed of a worry that i'm just too fucking far away struggles with the knowledge that while i was able to come home and live with them again for a couple of years in my forties and the difference it made for all of us (good and bad) I can't do that again. not for them, not for me and we all know this. meh. meh. meh.
posted by infini at 1:14 PM on June 21, 2010

Infini, if they're like mine, they're delighted with your independence. My sister had a fantasy, because my parents were divorced, that she'd move back in with my dad while she was in his vicinity attending grad school, He just refused, much as he loved her -- he wanted her to be an adult. (My dad was big on personal liberty.)

Just enjoy them. Call them, email them if they are computer savvy, visit when you can, have them visit when they can.

Micawber, right on. The resolution of my dad's estate was not fun, and I am so grateful my brother the estate lawyer made my dad go in and get all the necessary documents executed a few years before his death -- or it would have been nightmarish.
posted by bearwife at 1:34 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

oh godamn i knew i shouldn't have read this thread or the other one at work, but nooo, I clicked on both of them.

and damn NPR for airing a story about early-onset ALZ in the same week while I'm driving to work

and damn me for being a total fuckin' idiot.
posted by subbes at 4:57 PM on June 21, 2010

I didn't think about this till just now, but this article (about a pacemaker, and my father didn't have one -- but also about the end of life and mortality and caretaking) appeared on Father's Day and my own father died 26 years ago last month in a Southern California hospital room with nobody beside him. He had long since descended into the eternal night of Alzheimer's, but the disease didn't have the public profile then that it has now. We just thought that the cumulative toll of all of his many other illnesses and a life lived long, hard, and mean had caught up with him. We couldn't afford to do anything with him -- get him into a decent hospital or care facility, plan for his funeral, give him a dignified cremation, any of it. To this day I don't know where he's buried.

I am forever sorry that I was not sitting there holding his hand when he died. The sad part is that I know I could never have been able to do that back then, but would give anything to go back in time and be able to do it now. He was not a great father or even a good one, in fact he was nightmarishly awful, but he was the only father I had and will ever have.

If you all have fathers who are still alive, I wish you many years of long happiness and togetherness with them.
posted by blucevalo at 8:03 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Thanks, nevercalm and all.

My mom is dying of pancreatic cancer. 'Nuf said.
posted by dwbrant at 11:55 AM on June 23, 2010

Very, very sorry to hear that, dwbrant. Anything any of us can do to help?
posted by bearwife at 12:01 PM on June 23, 2010

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