If I look at as a new phase of many new phases in one life, it doesn’t really seem so bad. It doesn’t seem like an ending, but a new beginning.
About two-and-a-half weeks ago I drove to Elgin to help move my dad to a long-term care facility because he needed more care than my mom could give him. There was long-term care insurance in place and it really seemed like a relatively simple process. Admit him, promise to pay the deductible, do some paperwork and maybe shed a tear or two. I figured I’d be home by the following weekend at the latest.
Well, Dad’s in the facility, but it was not a simple process by any measure. What with insurance fine-print, arrogantly incompetent doctors, hospitals that pretend to be 4-star hotels and care more about their image than the families of their patients, I lost several nights’ sleep, went through high levels of stress and am still in Elgin.
Dad seems to have settled into the facility fairly easily. He seems to be more concerned about when his next meal is than where his family is or why he is not at home. He’s going to get physical therapy 3 times a week and has a multitude of people to talk to — people who have not heard about his 4-year stint in the Navy or about the time, when he was a child, that he accidentally burned down the school-house. He was always a social person and has not really had the opportunity to be around people for many years. He may not get along with everyone there, but I am confident that this is the right place for him.
This is just a new part of his life, just as going to school was when he was 5; just as entering the Navy was when he was 20; just as marrying my mom was when he was 26: just as becoming a father when he was 28; just as the times he changed jobs and finally retired. He has a new home now at the age of 82.
PS: Yes, I know I’m rationalizing it and, although what I wrote above is true, going to a nursing home, while probably for the best, is not a positive experience for the person going.