Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Parental Visit

I'm writing this assuming that my parents don't know that I work out my thoughts (read: whine) about them on this blog. If they discover it well then I'll look at it as an opportunity (at least I'm going to try to look at it that way.

Tonight I'm flying up to Seattle to visit for the weekend. It will be good to see them, but what's a parental visit without an agenda? My mission is easy to describe but will be nigh "impossible" (sorry) to achieve. (This message will self destruct in 5 seconds by the way.) Try to find out just why it is so hard for Dad to accept our help.

Now Dad and I have had this conversation before in various forms
- he says he's a fierce (I would say strident) individualist and has always had to do things himself.
- my response, that I've blogged about before, was, I think you've achieve plenty, why not let someone else do the work now.

The real thing that I need to find out about is what is he so terrified of? he's so resistant to change. He seems terrified that we're going to put him in his father's rest home. Never mind that his father's rest home may not really exist anymore and their are much better choices available these days. There are some really vibrant senior communities out there and we've showed him some.

This is delicate, but if I can get him by himself I may be able to find out. Is money an issue? On paper, it doesn't look like it but it would also require making the decision to draw down funds that they've saved. For Depression Era kids this is a horrible choice. Never mind that they have the money and that all of the children say go ahead and spend the money. It could very well be that they don't think they have it. University House is very nice and very expensive.

Anne encourages me to try to find out how they see the future. That will be another question that is terrifying for them. My father's health is ok, but iffy. My mother is physically fragile, but otherwise is in fine health. (Oh, she's going to try to kill me if she finds out I'm writing this publically - I could tell her to look on the bright side that I'm not David Sedaris, but she wouldn't get it.) This is actually quite a dilemma. My mother needs care and an attendant and my father doesn't want to hire one past a family friend who really doesn't want the job. If my mother falls she could be permanently hospitalized. With an attendant, my mother could live quite a fulfilling life. My father is no doubt aware of this yet still thinks he can take care of her. He doesn't seem to think hiring an attendant is a lot cheaper than the medical bills if she goes into a hospital never to come out.

Such grim topics.

Maybe I should take a different tack.
How do they want to live their lives? I have to be willing to hear this without putting my own agenda on it. If they truly want to sit in front of the TV for the rest of their lives, then that has to be ok with me. If they want something else then it's my job to help make that happen.

So it's:
- What do you need?
- What do you want that you're not getting now?
- How can I help make that happen?

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