Christmas with Dad

Last week was busy but warmer than normal for this time of year.  Still there was a chance of snow on most days, and I don’t drive on snow.  I stressed about being able to spend time with dad, and ended up visiting him on Tuesday as usual and again on Wednesday, Christmas Eve, because I was afraid I wouldn’t get there on Christmas Day.

I brought dad his presents on Christmas Eve and handed them to him in the lounge.  I explained that it was Christmas Eve (because he used to prefer to open presents on Christmas Eve, an old family tradition from his youth).  In actuality as we grew up he often had to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and as kids we opened most gifts Christmas morning, but maybe one on Christmas Eve.

Dad set the presents aside.  “I think I will save them for Christmas”, he said.  I told him I wasn’t sure I would be there Christmas Day. He asked where I would be and I said I was having brunch with my daughter at her house.  It depended on when we finished if I could get there as I don’t drive once the sun starts setting.  It gives me limited driving time in the winter as we have such short days here in this northern state.

Dad asked where I would be eating dinner, and I said I wasn’t really having dinner – just a late lunch with my daughter and her family.  OK.  He still wanted to save his presents for Christmas Day.  (I didn’t plan to take dad to visit the rest of the family because the commotion of all the children and other people around is too difficult for him to handle.  He gets confused and generally prefers to just have a few visitors to his ALF.)

I left feeling like I was abandoning dad on Christmas even though I had been there Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday – more than in a usual week.  Christmas Day I went to my daughter’s for a nice brunch with my daughter’s family.  We finished shortly after noon and I was home by 1 PM.  I decided I would visit dad right then and see him on the holiday.

I drove straight to his Assisted Living Facility.  It was fairly quiet there and dad was asleep on the sofa.  I woke him and wished him a Merry Christmas.  He looked at me and said: “Is today Christmas?”  Yes, I said, it was.  I asked if he had opened his presents and he said no.  I suggested we go back to his room and he could open his presents.

We went to his room and I handed him his presents.  There were some food gifts and some clothing.  He opened them and thanked me.  Then I said “Merry Christmas, Dad!”  He said Merry Christmas and I kissed him.  Then as I sat down he started to cloud over.  His eyes got watery and he looked like he was about to cry.  He grabbed my hand and said “Hold my hand.  I really miss your mother!”  I held his hand and said: “I do too dad”.  By then the tears were falling as they are right now.

As I left to go home, I wondered if I should have visited at all.  He forgot it was even Christmas and was OK with that.  I reminded him and then he was sad.  I decided it was good anyway to be with him at Christmas even if we have to feel the loss of mom again.  We are family together.

I felt like it was a bittersweet holiday.  I was glad to be able to be with dad, and sad that he is sad and still missing mom after 4 years.  We will always miss her, and Christmas will never be the same, but at least we can spend some time together.

I will add that my children and I also spent the day after Christmas together with more people as my other daughter and her family came to this part of the state after celebrating Christmas day at home.  It was another busy noisy long day and again I didn’t bring dad.  I saw him on Sunday and he was fine and back to normal.  I reminded him that this week is New Year’s Eve and Day but that isn’t as important to him.

This is probably my last post of this year, and I want to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year.  I will be posting intermittently for awhile, but hope to get back on a regular schedule sometime.

About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
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13 Responses to Christmas with Dad

  1. boomer98053 says:

    Family caregivers second guess themselves over and over again. I, on the other hand, third and fourth guessed myself regarding decisions I made regarding my dad, or things I said to him, or the way I behaved when I was with him. Some days I was a basket case. You have my permission – and the permission of all other caregivers out there – to be easier on yourself. I’m sure you did fine for the Christmas holiday, and will continue to do fine all the days of the coming year. Blessings to you. Your friend in Redmond, Washington, Irene.

  2. jmgoyder says:

    Yes, bittersweet. I understand and happy New Year to you both.

  3. Joy Johnston says:

    Feeling less guilty should be a new year’s resolution for all of us! It sounds like that was a very touching and special moment between you and your dad.

  4. When I read this post several days ago, I cried at exactly the spot your own tears were falling. Whenever my mom tells me she misses dad my heart breaks for her. I sometimes wish I could spare her the pain. Distract her. Make it stop. But then, our memories are what we have now, even though sometimes they make us ache. Okay, most of the time.

    It’s so nice you got to spend time with your dad this holiday and make some memories of your own. Wishing you peace and love in 2015.

  5. I cried reading this..(my fear of feeling heartbroken by it as you have read). You sound like a wonderful family, and I want to say that when your father gets confused and you feel like you abandon him, that is not the most important time. The most important time for you to focus on and feel proud about is your ability to show him the love he needs when you are there.

  6. dementedgirl says:

    You win some, you lose some – either way, it sounds a terribly moving Christmas Day for you….

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