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Striking out (with Dad)

He didn’t hobble toward ball field number two; he shoved his walker with purpose. Even tilted, he looked pretty good; eyes alert, dress casual and passably clean, disposition aloof but present. After three weeks in New York and countless years fantasizing about it, he finally felt well enough to make one of my boys’ baseball games.

“You gotta swing when it’s 3 and 2, kid!” he yelled at some boy I didn’t know, garnering a dirty look from some boy’s father.

I grimaced. “Dad, maybe keep your enthusiasm for the members of our family, please.”

He smiled,” clearly amused by himself. “Yeah, that guy didn’t appreciate my comment.”

This was the best I had seen my father in a long time and I tried without much success to appreciate the moment.

These last weeks have been enormously stressful. Applications for disability, transportation services and a downstairs unit had to be filled out, the right doctors found, Medicaid benefits approved to secure home health aides, visiting nurses and blah blah blah. We stand at the foot of a mountain of paper work, details and calls not returned.

But by far the biggest challenge is him.

He accidentally flooded the woman’s apartment below him by letting his sink overrun. Then he accidentally did it again. He accidentally pulled the emergency cord in the bathroom. He was confrontational with the nurse practitioner who came to help set up his medications. He didn’t go down to let in another NP.

Never ending, exhausting conversations saturate every space between the dramas. Pep him up, talk him down, find reasons for him to live. Be the happy voice, the scolding voice, the voice of reason. Even thinking about it makes my throat constrict.

Yet right now, he seems okay – his glassy eyes light as he watches the game, my other boys shyly stand near him and engage, he abandons his walker to hold on to the fence.

“Nice catch!” He yells to my son then turns to me, “Do you see the way he throws? He’s got confidence.”

I nod, glad that after weeks passed out in his chair, he’s found his voice and it’s not angry or miserable. It’s cheering.

Maybe we’ve turned a corner. Maybe it’ll be alright.

I allow just the smallest, tiniest, most miniscule molecule of hope to slip in, although at this point I don’t know how it’s even possible. Hope is a sneaky bastard.

The next morning social services call. They had just seen my father and found him extremely agitated and hostile with pills scattered everywhere. They regret to inform me that “mobile crisis” has been alerted and are on the way.

Maybe this is where it ends. Maybe it’s for the best.

At least he made it to a game.

My happy cage


About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

18 responses »

  1. This is the first of your posts I’ve read, so I don’t know whether your father had dementia or not. My mother has dementia, and everything about your dad’s behavior sounds just like her. There are days I want to strangle her; abandon her, but I’ve been her caregiver since I was 12, and she had a nervous breakdown. Every phase of our relationship has been difficult, but when she starts biting the healthcare workers who are trying to help her… That’s an entirely different “ballgame.” I understand how difficult it is for you.

    • He doesn’t really have dementia but chronic pain bad back operations and spinal stenosis but it’s all compounded by other conditions and so much meds that he is often confused and generally unfocused. i’ve been his caretaker for decades as well and it is all so emotionally overwhelming and difficult. it’s very hard managing especially when you really want to not only ‘manage’ your own life but actually enjoy it. cheers to us. i’ll have an extra scoop for you tonight.

  2. I admire your kindness despite the challenges. Not everyone thinks about how they want to look back on something, but you seem to have that in mind.

    • I appreciate that but honestly i’m not always kind. Sometimes, far from it. I can’t always help my frustration and resentment from seeping out. But it never helps the situation any…

  3. Another great post. : ) Shared and twittered!

  4. Sorry that you’re dealing with this, but happy that he gets to see the boys play.

  5. It has to be hard, many people wouldn’t be as involved as you are. That is significant and meaningful.

  6. I’m so glad I found your blog. We’re getting to a similar place with my father as well. Fortunately my mom is still around and doing her best to take care of him at home on her own. Unfortunately she is the one who gets the brunt of his anger. It’s so difficult seeing them like this.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your father. It’s so very difficult to watch someone change into an angry sick person. Do the best you can do for him and for your mom and take care of yourself. Life is crazy.

  7. Oh dear. I’m pulling for you! And for him.

  8. I’ve just recently started reading here. I’m so sorry for your pain… and his… and your family’s. This effects everyone.

  9. Please, update more! I love your stories. They’re amazing.


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