It used to be easier to telephone dad. When mom and dad were living together I would call several times a week. Generally mom did most of the talking for the both of them. Dad would get on for a minute and ask about the weather and the kids and then hand the phone back to mom.
Now mom is gone and dad is alone in his assisted living facility. Usually I visit him rather than telephone and if he is not chatty, I just sit by him and read the paper. Over the hour that I am there I can ask some questions, make some comments and judge how he is doing.
But now I am on vacation in the sunny south. Dad is still at home where it is cold and snowy. I hesitate to call as I know I will wake him and that he will have little to say. Still, I try to call regularly just to remind him that I am thinking about him even when I am not there.
I called this morning and as usual I woke him up. It was after 10 AM and he already had his breakfast. Still he said he was “groggy” because he was taking a nap in his bed. Usually he just falls asleep in his chair, but this day he went back to bed. In the morning, it is not that unusual though lately he has seemed to be more active.
I asked dad how he was doing and how his visits with his companions were going. As usual, he is “fine” and so were his companions. He really didn’t have much to say. Yes, it probably is cold out, but since he doesn’t have to go outside, he doesn’t mind.
I asked if he needed anything and he said no. I reminded him that my son would be there over the weekend and he could also ask the companions to bring whatever he needs.
He asked where I was and when I would be home, as he always does. And, as usual, he commented that I would be gone a long time. Still, he doesn’t complain about how long it will be as mom tended to do. He seems genuinely satisfied with his life right now, and that is good.
Long distance caregiving is a bit odd sometimes as it seems like I am not doing anything until the crisis comes along. I prepared well to get away and have many people watching over dad. Still for a man in his mid-90’s anything can happen. I continue to count on the fact that nothing will happen until I get home and that my vacation will be uneventful for us both.
I really wish my sister and/or my brother would go visit dad while I am gone, but I know it isn’t likely to happen. At least my brother telephones dad regularly. Unfortunately I think my sister almost never calls him. I asked her why once and she said she was afraid she would cry.
I believe that is partly correct. She is depressed and always called mom and dad to rescue her when she needed money or support. Now mom is gone and dad is past the rescue stage. Sister is really on her own now. She seems to be maintaining her own life without problems but she is unable to make the extra efforts required to visit dad.
Our sunshine is gone for today, replaced by wind and rain. I don’t mind as they need the rain here and I am hopeful I will catch up on indoor chores now that the beach is too cold and wet to induce me to go out for a nice relaxing walk. I uploaded some pictures and am getting some reading done. If I were at home with all that cold and snow (20 degrees out this week with light snow) I would feel trapped in my house. Yet staying indoors here is not so stressful because I know I can get out if I want to.