The other day at my mom's bible study group one of the mom's was talking about reading something called 365 blessings. She explained that this woman wanted to focus on all of the many blessings in her life so she blogged each day about a different blessing. She said that at first it was all of the obvious big things like family, health, jobs, house, etc. After a while it was smaller things that were still big like great weather, getting to work on time, fresh pot of coffee already made, etc.
After a while she started to look for things that were blessings that she might not have thought of as blessings. Sometimes things that make us unhappy or that seem really hard can be blessings in disguise.
A family member that is close to me once wrote an article for her church talking about how getting breast cancer was one of her greatest blessings. She talked about how much more she appreciated her life and loved her family and especially how much closer it brought her to God.
This year as I think about the many many blessings in my life I have thought about some of the harder blessings too. It has been an amazing year for my family. We all have our health and Bret has a great job. We bought an amazing house and have really settled in to our new community making lots of new friends. We are closer to family for the first time in years. It will be our first Thanksgiving back in KS since before we moved. I am so so thankful for all of these things.
Then there are is the one harder blessing that I struggle with. Just weeks after we got settled here in our new town my dad made the decision to transfer nursing homes to our little town also. He went without my knowledge and got everything started. The next thing I knew I had doctors, social workers, directors of nursing, and the nursing home directors calling me. I had asked him to wait a few months so that we could get unpacked. He was very unhappy where he was and decided to move anyways.
Having my dad close by living in a nursing home has been really tough. The kids and I go visit him a couple times a week. He calls at least twice a day. He calls Bret at least four or five times a week. As his medical power of attorney they call me about every doctor visit, any changes to his meds, and any concerns that they have about his change in health. As his child they call me in regularly about plans of care, rehab, and disagreements with the nurses/other residents/etc. I go to mediation meetings. I come up with ideas of things to keep him busy and try to take him things that make him happy.
He is personally struggling with being a 59 year old man living in a nursing home. I know that. His limited independence has been a hard pill to swallow. He wants to be able to go wherever he wants to when he wants to. It doesn't work that way anymore. He has good days and bad days. His emotions are always all over the place. He is lonely and bored. Nothing I do ever is enough. He gets mad that I can't come visit more often. He gets mad when he feels like I am not including him. He gets upset when we go out of town because he wishes he could come too. He tells me that he is least important person in my life. That if I have time to post pictures to Facebook why can't I come see him more often. He thinks that we are ashamed of him. He threatens to move to a different nursing home in a different town regularly. He tells my sister, aunt, uncle, his friends that I don't come see him ever. Then hours later he tells me he is sorry and that he loves me. He tells me he knows that I am doing the best that I can. He cries, yells, and you never know which it is going to be. It is exhausting.
Taking care of my dad even though he lives in a nursing home is one of the hardest things I have ever done. The guilt, frustration, and hurt feelings circle around me all the time. Sometimes I don't want to answer his phone calls. Sometimes I don't even want to go visit him. Sometimes I wish he would move away so that we only had to visit a few times a month like my siblings do. Then I feel terrible for feeling that way.
We are going to my sister's house for Thanksgiving and he is very hurt. He thinks we are going out of town so that we don't have to include him.
In the past year I have prayed a lot about my dad. That he find happiness and peace in his new circumstances. That I find patience and compassion no matter what. For the past few weeks I have prayed that I find the blessing. I love my dad. My kids love my dad. He is their papa. Logan loves going to visit him. They know who he is and he is getting to know them. My dad is becoming a special part of my family in a way that he otherwise never would have. On good days my dad is witnessing my love and how much I do for him. Most of the time we have good visits. They are never long enough or often enough but we do what we can.
Taking care of him has challenged me personally in way nothing else ever has. I am thankful that he is alive. I am thankful that I get the opportunity to be the kind of daughter I always wanted to be. I just didn't know it was going to be so hard. I am still working on seeing the blessing but I know that it is there.