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A Change in Seasons: Caring for Her Father the Way he Once Cared for Her

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
March 31, 2023 3:01 am

A Change in Seasons: Caring for Her Father the Way he Once Cared for Her

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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March 31, 2023 3:01 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Debra Freeberg joins us with part of a beautiful and heartwarming story she wrote about caring for her father in his time of need.

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See website for details. And we return to Our American Stories. Up next, we have a listener story from Deborah Freeburg. Deborah is here to share part of a heartwarming story she wrote about caring for her father in his time of need.

Let's take a listen. In the season of my childhood, my parents were my guides and teachers. They taught honesty and fairness.

They taught that you don't accomplish anything without hard work and perseverance. It was in their actions that I learned that faith and family were paramount. Every month or so, we drive to the tiny town of Houtsdale, Pennsylvania to visit Grandma and Grandpa Freeburg. Every summer, we drive across the vastness of Ohio and Indiana to reach Crystal Lake, Illinois and spend a few weeks with Grandma and Grandpa Johnson. Vacations were always equated with trips to family. My parents attended almost every family event they could.

Anniversaries, baptisms, weddings, reunions, and funerals. Family was important. Caring for family was important. During my college years, I remember the care that my parents displayed for their parents. Grandpa Freeburg had multiple strokes and Grandma Freeburg slid into dementia after he passed. The road from Pittsburgh to the nursing home in Johnstown was well traveled. Grandma Johnson's repeated surgeries had my parents flying back and forth to Tucson from Pittsburgh, occasionally even driving cross-country. It took its toll, but that's what family did for one another. And now it was my turn.

A new season, uncharted and a bit frightening. In the center of the hospital room is a large medical bed enclosing a large man with its metal railings. Deb. Yes, Dad. The sheet and blue blanket are bunched around his middle. He looks worried. I think it's time.

Peak Patrol. I felt the shame rolling off of Dad as I swallow my embarrassment this first time. I'm sorry, I never thought you'd have to do this. Dad, it's okay. Stiffly stepping to the rolling table wedged at the head of the bed, I move one of the many stands of medical equipment to get to the table. I pick up the urinal flask. I smile at Dad and he smiles back.

Thank you, he whispers. In 1997, Dad had a massive rolling stroke that resulted in the loss of mobility on his left side, arm and leg. We still had his cognitive function, speech, intellect and his peculiar sense of humor. Dad rehabbed and struggled to relearn and retrain his body so that he could still navigate the house, go up a few stairs or walk up and down inclines in the driveways and sidewalks. Jim, be careful, Mom would say. Dad, be careful, we would say.

Let me help. I can do it, he'd say. Dad hated being a burden for my mother, but he still needed help with dressing, putting on shoes and socks, being driven places, opening heavy doors and the like. Now Dad was never a quitter. For the next half dozen years or more, he thought he could exercise his way back to health. No stroke was going to keep him down. My active fishing golfer father began a rhythm of short months of recovery, followed by disappointment.

Outside of therapy, Dad tried to exercise, pushed too hard or fell and hurt himself more than he helped. After he fell off the sleek wooden Nordic Track glider rails, got banged up, bruises blooming along his side, elbow a misery and a ripe shiner on his face, his doctor told him to stop trying so hard. He sat in his wheelchair by then, couldn't exercise much.

He wouldn't take his antidepressants. They made him feel funny. He steadily packed on pounds. He couldn't stop eating and Mom couldn't stop making him his favorite foods. By the time Dad passed 300 pounds, my mom had great biceps pushing him along in his wheelchair, but she was exhausted. Mom's friends routinely told me and my sisters that Mom was the strongest woman they'd ever met. My mom could have run a small country in her prime, but 12 plus years of taking care of Dad wore her down.

My sisters were six hours away and I was nearly 11 hours away by car. We started a schedule of rotating months so that Mom can have some relief and company and Dad had company. See you in a couple months, Dad. If I'm here. Oh, Dad, please don't say that. Well, I may not be here next month or next year.

You never know. Dad. No one should have to live like this, but he did for 15 years after the first stroke. When he got pneumonia in 2011, I took another week off from work.

I never knew when it might be the last visit. This time, I decided to spend some nights with Dad in the hospital rather than the few hours in and out each day. Dad was incontinent and needed extra help at night when the nursing staff was minimal. At first night, I walked into Dad's room as the nurse and orderlies were changing his bedding and gown. I stepped back into the doorway as they rolled him over on his side, then onto his back and rolling him back on the other side as they got the bedding under him and over him.

The first night alone in the room, we began with talking and catching up. And then Deb. Yes, Dad. I'm sorry. I never thought you girls would have to do this.

Pay Patrol. Dad, it's okay. Oh, honey. No big deal, Dad.

You changed my butt plenty of times. I fling back the thin blanket and rise from my cramped position on the hard vinyl sofa. I reach for my glasses on the small window ledge above the couch and stand pushing the frames back on my nose.

The blinds are partially open and I glanced down at the circle drive illuminated by lights above the hospital entrance. It's late. I'm sorry. He'd say it's all right. I'd say but it was more than just handling his urgent needs. He was exposing his gross bloated belly to me.

I knew that he hated his body. It's all right. I'd say again. At first I just concentrate on the task. I'm done.

Okay. Each time I gently take the flask away, set it down on the rolling table and then he grabs the wipe and furtively wipes himself. I cover him back up with a thin sheet and the blue woven blanket back in a minute in the bathroom.

I check the output and write it down on the chart empty the urine into the toilet rinse and wash the flask and then wash my hands thoroughly placing the clean flask on the table. I rub his arm and smooth his spiky hair. I love you. I love you too. Dad. I'm glad you're here honey. I am too dead. Try to get some sleep.

The medical machine alarms go off regularly in the couch of vinyl covered hardness is killing my back. The clock's second hands ticks around and around my half doze or daydream moments of my childhood as I watch dad sleep mouth slack blue eyes shuttered a mound of a man in a cage bed. We were kids dad would meet us after work at the community pool and we'd laugh to see dad's dark golfer tan on his face neck arms and legs against the Scandinavian whiteness of his belly blooming over his red bathing trunks. He'd lie on his back and float his manly white belly gliding by it's the great white whale look out we cry and dad would chase us and toss us up in the air and throw us back in the water spluttering my two sisters and I would shout again again until his arms gave out and mom called us to eat dinner. This was my beloved goofy dad who embarrassed my teenage self every time he wore this Elmer Fudd faux fur hat in public or the umbrella hat or thought Conway Twitty was a rock star.

The dad who bought an invisible dog and walked around Gatlinburg Tennessee encouraging the little kids to pet the dog. Yes, the father whose disappointment chafed me and justly would hold me accountable. He could get on my last nerve with his advice or teasing that rubbed raw, but he was a man of friends in the most honest person I knew and the most self-deprecating. I was mortified at my response to his weight and size.

I mean there he lay a great heap of a man under blanket. I was ashamed of myself and I understood that others didn't know the essence of the man I knew. As I watched him sleep. I'd wonder when my father last felt cherished or when he felt fully alive in his body.

I wanted him to feel cherished for two days. I stayed overnight in the hospital with my father. Sometimes we chatted about my daughter and work. Sometimes we chatted about my sister in the family. Sometimes we chatted about nothing much at all until he fell asleep.

Neither of us sleep more than a few hours at a time. Deb. Yes, Dad.

P patrol on the double. I am sorry. I am sorry. You have to see your old broken down father like this each time each time. He'd apologize.

You shouldn't have to do this. I tried to make him understand but Dad, I finally said this is how I can love you. His eyes were a little moist then we looked at each other. Nothing more need be said we were together and that is what mattered. And a terrific job on the editing storytelling and production by our own Madison Derricotte and a special thanks to Deborah Freeburg for sharing her beautiful story. We're all going to be there folks on the receiving end and the giving end of her parents. She said in their actions. I learned faith and family were paramount. She remembered the care her parents gave their parents and then that time that new season bit uncharted and frightening where she became the caretaker when I watched him. She said I wondered when he last felt cherished.

I wanted him to feel cherished love story between daughter and father the daughter caring for her father the way her father had once cared for her. This is our American stories leftovers or the DMV or housecleaning. Or Chumba Casino always brings the fun play over a hundred different games online for free from anywhere. You could redeem some serious prizes Chumba live the Chumba life. No, we're just necessary website for details.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-02 01:52:56 / 2023-04-02 01:57:56 / 5

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