Thursday, October 6, 2011

When should an adult be treated like a child || Writer's Workshop Prompt

Head in Hands
Head in hand by Alex E. Proimos

I follow Mama's Losin' It on Twitter and this week happened upon her writer's workshop prompt and thought I'd join.  The prompt I chose:

1.) Share a disagreement you’re having with someone and let your readers be the judge!

Here was the disagreement I've had with a family member this week regarding my father, his health, and his choices:

My Uncle (father's brother) says we have to treat my ailing father like an irrational child (he acts like one) and force our hand to get him to manage his health care.  I, having tried for years, said that ultimately my dad is an adult and we can't force him to do anything (we have no legal recourse at this time). 

When do you allow an adult to make own decisions and live his life?  When do you or can you force your hand?

Everyone, at some point in their lives, face the crossroads of caring for their aging parents.  This subject doesn't seem to be openly discussed a lot.  Every family and individual is subject to their own experiences.  It's all dependant on the parent, the individual, beliefs, history, emotions, timing, etc.  And, you don't really think about it until it hits you between the eyes like a big dart.  Well, I'm staring cross-eyed at a big 'ol dart right now.

The back story:
I've struggled for years trying to get my Dad to take care of himself.  We typically end up fighting over the phone and I've come to the point where I can't even call him unless I'm emotionally prepared to be on the phone for several hours possibly ending in total heart pulsing frustration. 

My dad is unhealthy.  He is thousands of miles away from me.  He is not capable of managing his health care and we (my brother, uncle, cousin, and I) have all tried to help him in various ways for years.  For example, I once drove 80 miles, forced him in the car, to drive him 80 miles again to my local VA to have him checked out.  This was something he just couldn't/wouldn't do on his own. Some 15 years ago, we also guilted forced him into having his heart checked...sure enough he had to have a valve replaced.  He wouldn't have gone on his own.

We fight, I listen.  Any advice I might share (or his doctor son-in-law) is often ignored, misinterpreted, unheard.  The family plays "telephone" and each situation spirals into an emergent mess.  We (all of us but my cousin are thousands of miles away) cannot manage his health care from so far away.  We have offered him to come live with us.  He has up to now, refused.

My Uncle asked my dad if he wanted to die.  My dad's response was, "No, but I never thought I'd live this long."  He is 71.  To me, that is not old.

I could write a book about my father and his stubborn ways (of which, I'm sure I share).  It has driven me to counseling.  It has ravished me with guilt. And, this is just one 1/2 of my parental unit.

I believe that a grown man who fights to make his own decisions and live his life as he sees fit (whether I/we think his decisions are rational or not) should be left to do just as he pleases.  We have no legal recourse and cannot forcefully make him do anything.  I can offer to take him in or I can be there to listen when I am able.  What else can I do?

Mama’s Losin’ It

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