Saturday evening I flew up to Chicago for a family visit. It was my father’s 91st birthday. But what should have been a weekend-long celebration was muted by his quickly deteriorating health.
Ted Killingsworth never dreamed he would live to be 91. Heck, he used to tell me while he was still middle aged that , “I hope to live to be 80 years old!” whenever I would complain about having to eat my vegetables or spend long hours in the yard working with him.
Dad didn’t retire from his profession as a corporate attorney and engineer until age 76. And he still looked and felt great on his 80th birthday. All of that clean living–he quite smoking back when I was young, ate well, exercised and didn’t drink much–paid-off until his late 80’s. Then his mental and physical decline began like someone had turned-off a switch.
A month ago dad fell in the shower, fracturing his T-6 vertebra. Not a serious injury, except the event seemed to accelerate his dementia. Dad’s nurse believes the break was made worse because of his early stage metastasized prostate cancer. Apparently that location showed-up as a possible problem area after his last bone scan.
In April I stopped-in for a brief two day visit and dad was still able to use a walker and eat at the table. This trip he was bedridden and more frail.
Dad seems to be taking it all in stride. He doesn’t like being stuck in bed, but he is receiving great care and has been able to stay at home, thanks to a dedicated group of home health techs, and now hospice. Thankfully, my father was as conscientious as an investor as he was about his health, so my parents can afford to do it this way.
Disarmingly, dad wasn’t the issue this time around. He’s reluctantly accepted that the end is near; my crazy family has not. Dad’s 91st birthday party on Sunday would have made an episode of Arrested Development or Sunny in Philadelphia look tame! It would be a screenwriter’s dream, except I probably shouldn’t be sharing an uncensored eyewitness account publicly if I ever want to visit dad again–and return alive!
On the plane I started writing a follow-up about my surreal visit home. Here’s the way I had planned to end today’s post as a lead-in for Friday:
OK, maybe a harmless anecdote or two wouldn’t hurt–I’d be surprised if any of my narcissistic relatives are reading anyway. (Oops! I’m in trouble already!) Shouting, screaming, denial, depression and diagnosed coo-coo crazies! And that’s all before the party started!
So tune-in tomorrow for my first installment of “As My Crazy Family Turns.” Maybe I can think of a better name for the soap opera I call home by then…
After a good night’s sleep, I’ve reconsidered posting the follow-up I wrote on the plane ride home. Maybe it’s best to leave all of this behind; back in Illinois. It’s probably wise to keep details about my dysfunctional family to myself–at least for now. Trust me, you can let your imaginations run wild, but you will never come close to the crazy truth! Maybe I’ll write a memoir after my parents are gone…
Pattie’s working today (she gets time-and-a-half) so I can get settled-in and get back to work. I have a lot of important myeloma related news to share with you tomorrow. Happy 4th of July everyone!
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat