My Mom’s Last Gift to Me

My dad was a typical Asian father.  He was in charge although we knew mom was the bedrock of the family.  Dad sacrificed a lot and made sure we had a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs and an education.  When I started to work and gave money back to my parents, it was always to mom.  I pretty well used mom as a buffer.  It wasn’t that I was scared of dad.  It was just the way it was. 

Mom was always the one who would speak to dad.  She understood my father, his way of thinking and knew how to talk to him.  No matter how tired they were, they always made time every night to sit together and chat quietly.  Because dad was older, I always thought he would pass away first.  But that wasn’t the case.  Mom had a lot of illnesses and contracted a vicious form of cancer.  She passed away a few months after.  Dad was shaken to the core.  I didn’t know what to do with him and I never knew how to really talk to him.  But since mom’s passing, our relationship slowly grew.  He can be stubborn and annoying.  But I gradually enjoyed my weekly dinners with him.  He became my “date”.  We went to bookstores.  He would pass by the “Romantic Novels” section and proclaimed loudly that it was “garbage”.  We got a few glares from those faithful readers.  I helped him with his banking.  He never stopped giving me advice. 

When he started to get more and more confused, I started to get worried.  My instincts were to simply gradually bring him back to reality gently rather than act shock or confused.  He got me my first jock strap when I started high school.  I was too embarrassed to buy one myself for gym.  I got him his first adult diaper.  He told me he was too embarrassed about the problem and didn’t know what to do.

Every day at the hospital, I would make sure I hold dad’s hand or stroke it gently.  I joke with him.  He told me he was scared and that he prayed very hard.  He wasn’t sure if his prayers were answered.  He thought his prayers weren’t eloquent.  I told him prayers are prayers and they will be heard.  I keep telling him that we will be here and won’t abandon him. I never knew he prayed.  I never seen him this scared before.  

I don’t know what each day will bring.  Right now he just wants to go home.  So that’s what we’ll work towards.  Maybe the doctors will let him go home.

Mom was indeed the bedrock of the family.  She gave me one last gift when she passed away.  It was an opportunity to know my father a bit better and to see him in a different light. 
Thanks mom.


Deal the Cards

My dad is still in the hospital.  He is out of imminent danger thanks to a transfusion and a lot of medication.  But this experience is taking a toll on him physically and mentally. He gets confused very easily in this different environment.  He still can’t walk yet and it’ll be awhile before he can even go home.  The memory losses he goes through scares me.  He also gets depressed at the physical state he is in and being so helpless.  He depends on everyone for his well being.  If he needs to be changed, he has to wait until a nurse or attendant is available.  They moved him yesterday to another wing.  There are more people here that are “confused” and bed ridden.  It is a depressing place and I pull the curtains around dad’s bed so he doesn’t see everyone in his ward.

When I go home after spending a day at the hospital, I shower immediately. While the hot, soapy water washes away any germs, it doesn’t wash away my guilt, insecurity and fear.  At the hospital, I am the patient and filial son.  We hold his hands and assure him when he cries.  He has these huge fears of abandonment.  He worries incessantly about the financial burden and the toll it has taken on us.  We tell him we will still be there.  We also tell him that we’re trying to get personal care attendants too.  But I’m also the angry son who snaps back at my dad when he doesn’t eat.  I have become cold and emotionless.  It’s what I have to do to survive another day. 

I’ll soon leave for the hospital for my shift.  My siblings and I still provide round the clock coverage.  I caught myself thinking that I’ll get some sleep when this is over.  But that triggered another wave of guilt and sadness.