Daddy Care: The long good-bye
Going through my files this morning I stumbled over a conversation last year on February 18th. A friend and I talked about the my father's Long "Good-Bye." [text below] We talked during what seemed like an eon of anchoring caretaking. The family system was under stress with death and surgery and a long, hard winter. Sometimes there isn't much choice and a gal must "rise nobly to the occasion" (to quote my father).
The Long Good-bye continues a year after our conversation. I'm still weary. It's still tiring. It's still heart-breaking. And yet, there is joy is getting to know my father better and better. To hear him sing in his weekly bath. To see him valiantly whittling and writing, never ceasing to be productive.
More and more the "locus of the focus" [to use my friend's phrase] must shift to my sanity and well-being with his journey being his journey and mine being mine. One of the hardest things I've had to deal with in coming home since 2004 is to identify and soften my roles within the generational family history and structure. Slowly, in different settings, I come back into myself. Another hard thing is that there are so many triggers from the memories stored in objects.
It's a work. It's a work I've taken on, and will myself to constancy of purpose and action until his death and beyond. The rhythm and content of my life is about as far from most of my friends as can be. This is my life for right now.
Life is ever changing shape. Ride its edge to the ridge of uncertainty. Change horses and ride down the other side.
With thanks for your friendship, as it happens.
February 18, 2011
Note to my friend:
I suppose you are saying something like this:
--to access the present moment
--integrate circumstances that arise now...situation by situation...both inspiring and painful
Just that is a mouthful. I'll look over my notes some more. Something to aspire to. Thanks for the conversation, and really listening and responding to what I'm feeling.
Oh, yes. And continued good luck conquering the world.
CONVERSATION WITH MY FRIEND
Janet: I see him molecularly dissolving. He moves at a glacial pace. I am tired. It’s wearing. I feel that I’m carrying the weight of watching him decline. It’s heart breaking.
Friend: Follow feelings and clusters of feelings. Not responsible for these feelings. It’s part of his sphere of influence. His journey. Your job is to be an egoless part of what his journey is. [I’m part of something bigger.]
You are using all your energy and resourcefulness. It’s not a matter of strength. It’s a given that you're going to be exhausted. But, it won’t last forever. And, all along the way it will change.
Respect for his process. His body is wearing out. Step outside myself. Know and feel the effect on you. "Locus on focus." Shift to your father's voyage. What he’s doing, and what you're doing ripples out. Shift the agency away from you to the overall effect.
It's absolutely impossibile to predict the course he's on now.
Janet: Yes, there's “No saying”
Friend: Right now your ability to observe is clouded. You are witnessing someone dying, and being part of their voyage. It's one of the big moments in your life. You can be aware, yes. But comprehension will come later. So, accept. Sort it out later.
Tagged as: caretaking, dying, family systems, self-care for caretakers