Monday, July 16, 2012

Taking My Dad Home, For Now

I drove my dad back home yesterday.

I am not all that comfortable with the decision to take him back, and I know that many will second guess it. But, he is happiest when he is at his rural property, and I wanted to let him enjoy it there for a while longer before we possibly have to force him to leave. (And my sister will be driving there to see him next week, so he won’t be alone for too long before we see how he is doing.)

Before I left him, I did my best to give him supports that are intended to help him remember to do things that he has been forgetting to do. Our experience with visual schedules for Kai came in handy here. I created and put up laminated visual reminders around my dad’s house for him to take his medication, take showers, change clothes, and do laundry. I don’t particularly expect that he will be able to carry forth on these things without someone actually there to remind him, but I wanted to give him every opportunity to live independently for as long as he can.

If these visual reminders are not enough, and I suspect they will not be, we will have to resort to legal means to force him to accept the help that he so adamantly refuses.

On the drive back to his place, my dad talked a little bit about how much Kai has changed. With his failing memory, I wasn’t sure he actually remembered what Kai was like before. But when my dad said that this time he could have a conversation with Kai, I am inclined to believe that he did remember when Kai would not have answered him at all.

Not that it was easy for them to hold conversations this time.

It was kind of funny to see them get mutually frustrated. My dad would sometimes express exasperation when Kai did not respond to his inquiries, particularly when he was distracted from a video he was watching. Kai would get frustrated when Ojiichan did not answer him because his grandfather did not hear him or could not understand what he was talking about.

But still, they both tried.

One day we played the card game Crazy 8s. The rules are very simple, but we had to repeat them over and over for my dad. Kai kept trying to tell Ojiichan not to change the color to green as he had no green cards in his hand. But every time my dad played the Crazy 8, that is what he did, and then he wondered why Kai groaned at him.

On Saturday, we began dog sitting for the two active dogs we had earlier. When we took them for a walk, my dad picked up some colorful leaves that had already fallen off the trees. Well, picking up leaves often interests Kai, so he helped Ojiichan find the most interesting ones and gave them to him. It was great to see them interact over something so simple, yet interesting to them both.

* * * * *

I had planned to drive back home yesterday in time to see Kai before he went to bed. But I had spent so much time cleaning my dad’s house that I was not going to make it in time. So about the time Kai was getting ready to go to bed, my wife called me on my cellphone so that I could say good night to him. It was nice to hear his voice. And then they hung up.

But about 15 minutes later they called again. My wife said that Kai started crying and he missed me. I don’t know what triggered such an emotional response, although bedtime is when I always read with him. I told Kai that I missed him, too, and that I would see him in the morning.

Not too surprisingly, when I got home about 40 minutes later, he was still awake. I could barely get inside the house when he came over and gave me a long, big hug. It was the longest hug I remember ever getting from him. I saw that his eyes were still moist. He said that he really missed me. My wife was a bit jealous, wondering if Kai cried so much when she went to Japan earlier in the year. Of course, he really missed her then, but I was enjoying his affection now.

It probably won’t be too long before Kai is angry with me, and telling me that he wants a new dad, but I’ll long remember this hug and hold on to the thought that this is the better representation of his true feelings toward me.

(Note: I just updated my previous post with a family photo).


  1. This is such a sweet post
    you are a great son
    I think you did the kindest thing
    Sometimes that is the right thing

    1. It was not an easy decision, and I am dreading the day when we might decide my dad can't live there anymore, but hopefully this will bring him happiness for now. Thanks so much for the supportive thoughts, K.

  2. What a wonderful post! Your love for your father and son shines through your words! As a family, we have had similar conversations about my grandmother. As with you, safety is the biggest concern. I use a visual timer with my son, I wonder if that could be used by your father? I believe that there are watch-like versions on the Internet.
    Continued prayers and blessings to you!

    1. Thank you, Kelly. Seeing loved ones grow old is really tough, isn't it. We have used a visual timer with our son, too, and it was really effective with him. I think my dad would forget to set it if we're not there to do it for him. :)

  3. That makes sense! Best wishes to you!

  4. When my father got to the point of not being able to care for order to take the pressure off of my mom...we had arranged for a stop in care (I believe it was 3-4 times weekly for 3 hours at a time). She would do the grocery bathe him (my mother could not support my father's weight by herself)...and do general clean up, including my mother could concentrate on watching him. Something like that could greatly extend his independent living. Some will also cook meals, and feed them at home on a daily basis.

    Just an idea.

    Kai is so cute. I wonder if he is sees the frailty of human life and is worried about you (specific connection from your father to you vs. a general one for all humans). Anyway...It must be a good feeling knowing that your son has such tender feelings for you. Children have such pure hearts...that is what makes them so lovable.

    1. We have been suggesting something like that to my father for a few years now and he absolutely refuses to allow it. So, we are at the point where we will have to force it on him, by legal means if necessary, for his own good. It has been my greatest frustration through all this that he will not consider even relatively minor changes that could greatly help him.

      Yes, I was greatly touched by the emotion and affection Kai showed me. He is still a very sweet boy at heart. I had not considered that he would be worried about me because of my recent stress, but I was surprised that he showed such emotions now so something had to have triggered this. Hmm...


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