Treading Water


Treading Water

Dad and my husband at a market this fall. Dad and my husband at a market this past fall.

Dad and I are doing well, I think, but there's an undercurrent of sadness and a kind of frenzy that one conducts to fill time or dead air (no pun intended).

I'm engrossed in the organization challenge here at, and my days are filled with 1) work; 2) organization; and 3) family. Dad's days have been filled with widow & widower meetings, Sunday school, rum cakes, applesauce cakes, and the final mulch attack. The gardens are finally finished for the winter in time for the cold snaps, and dad is becoming more engrossed in the kitchen. He doesn't have hobbies, so his time is filled with anxiety about how to fill that time.

I wanted to call him for Veteran's Day, but I never did that before; so, I stalled on that one. He was in the Air Force during WWII, but he never saw action, because he was stationed in Montgomery, so he doesn't consider himself a 'hero.' My birthday was on the 13th, which was another reason I avoided a call, because I expected him to call me. I almost didn't want him to call, because Mom and Dad used to sing "Happy Birthday" together, often in parody. But, he did call that afternoon, and my heart broke. He was so funny, but his lone voice was a parody of what used to be a joint effort.

I'm now 60, and it's unbelievable to me because I never thought I'd live past 30. Once I hit 30, life went so fast I didn't have time to consider my options. Now, I realize that I only have many 20 to 30 cognitive years (hopefully) to live to fulfill any dreams. Good luck on that one, because survival often is the day-to-day option. And, now that I realize that I'm between generations that both need my help... Well...

It's been difficult for me to write a post about caregiving for dad, because he seems to be doing so well. His brothers and sisters are another story. In comparison, Dad looks like an Olympic champion. At 84, he walks and he challenges himself with activities like cooking (he never cooked before Mom's death except BBQ and grilling) and shopping (he never, ever shopped before). He's even collecting coupons like Mom did, and he's become so tight with money that he'll go to his sister's house two miles away to get her Sunday paper rather than apply for his own subscription.

This is the part of dad that I never expected. The tightwad. The guy who counts pennies. The man who cannot figure what it costs to go to his house from mine.

But, that's another story.

Like this article? Share on social


Sign in to comment


I too will turn 60 soon. -- I really relate to your thoughts on age. With all parents now gone, I think about not wanting to be a burden for my kids.\r\nYou wrote: \"Now, I realize that I only have many 20 to 30 cognitive years (hopefully) to live to fulfill any dreams.\"\r\nI just hope whatever years I have left, I have my cognition. My mom's symptoms where appearing in her early 60s. I fear I have some appearing. I wrote earlier today about my fears of Alzheimer's today on


Thank you for sharing so many of the unspoken thoughts I've had about turning 60 shortly, and also about all the very deep and unconscious feelings as you weigh if an option is better to address with your dad or better to avoid. So many choices for us all.