This time I don’t think chocolate will make it better…..


“Happy Father’s day! It’s not much…”

“OOOO Chocolate!!” (coming from a beaming face of an 85 year old)

“OH my Lord, Dale you can’t eat that, remember what the doctor said…”

“Dad why aren’t you taking your medicine?”

“Can I have the chocolate now?”

“Dale, my gosh…no you can’t have the chocolate…remember what the doctor said??!!”

“I thought he said that if I started feeling better in a couple of days I could go back to eating what I want.”

“Dad you have to go to the gastroenterologist on Tuesday.”

“No, he said if I felt better, I could………”

“My lord Dale! NO! Right here in front of Julie, I’m telling you……”

And so went the last visit to Dad’s.

“Can’t you tell he’s lost weight?!”


Dad, how much weight have you lost?”

“I think about 10 lbs.”


“None of his clothes fit. I need to take him to get all new pants”

“Well had I known he needed pants, I’d have gotten him pants instead of the movies and chocolate….”

“He won’t take his medicine, he’s not helping himself”

“Dad, why aren’t you taking your pills like you suppose to?”

Blank stare

“Dad do you want to go to a home?”

“Julie must be a fly on the wall here Dale—she’s simply repeating what I told you this morning…”

And he finally turns and looks at me….

“I won’t leave this house but in a box”

“Well Dad, you’re working your way to that box very quickly”

Jump forward to yesterday.

The phone rings

“Happy New Years!”

“Happy New Years to you too Dad, but I think it’s the 4th of July”

“Oh yeah, 4th of July”

“I wish I could have spoken with you yesterday but seems our phone wasn’t working”
(note, I call often only to get no answer…if he’s eating, wobbling to the bathroom, out to a movie, or watching the latest breaking all day news coverage, he won’t answer)

“Why wasn’t your phone working?”

“Seems someone forgot to pay the bill”


“Don’t fuss at me, it’s all taken care of…”

“Dad, how did this happen again?”

Don’t fuss at me, Gloria’s son and daughter-n-law came over yesterday and fixed it.”

“What do you mean they fixed it?”

“She helped me set it all up where it just gets pulled out automatically”

“Dad, I thought that’s what you were already doing. Dad it’s not their place to help you do that–its mine—Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Please don’t fuss at me…”

“Dad I’m not fussing—put Gloria on the phone”

“No, both of you will fuss at me”

“Dad, nobody is fussing, I just want to talk with Gloria”

“hello, what? I’ve been sick”

“….they just showed up, when they couldn’t get us on the phone or my, what do you call it?… cell phone. And it’s a good thing; they got the phone mess straightened out. It just had me all upset again and plus I’m sick. I told them you’ve been to sort his files and they’re in a mess again. I told them about you going to the bank and we thought things would get better…”

Much more conversation— “…Gloria, what about maybe assisted living?”

“Yes, I think that would be good– but I don’t like the one’s with elevators, those big high-rises. Something cute, like a little bungalow. I don’t want to live in the middle of Buckhead or Sandy Springs.”

“But that’s where ya’ll are now…”

“Well, I don’t know…”

I’ll drive up on Tuesday, is that okay”

“Oh yes Tuesday will be fine”

“I’ll work on his files and the papers—plus maybe we need to really talk about getting help—the house, the yard, it’s too much….”

“Yes, that will be wonderful”

And so began and continued the latest conversation.

He’s getting worse–more so mentally, not so much physically—but for this latest and should have been avoided bout of colitis…. The Alzheimer’s? Is that it? He just wants to be like a little kid—being catered to constantly. Never leaving the house or even getting up out of his chair. He’s now even shaving in his chair. Ugh….

“Hi Dad, what are you doing?”

“Oooo, I’m watching Flash Gordon!”

“The 1930’s flash Gordon Dad?”

“Oooo yes!” Complete with grin…
And he refuses to discuss moving, my taking over finances, or anything that is along the lines of grown-up responsibilities…telling my cousin the financial manager…”I don’t want Julie involved”

Why is that? Is it because he doesn’t trust me? Doesn’t want his “little girl” doing such? I don’t know. I’m almost 54, I think I’m grown up enough to help.

“Dad, have you spoken with your accountant yet?”

“No, but I’m working on it”

“Dad, you’ve been working on it”

“Don’t fuss at me”

And so it goes….I’ve tried stepping back—swooping in to tidy up and fix the disasters, little by little—getting things to a point of rolling along again, then BAM, he’s back in another pickle… the latest in an on-going litany of perdiciments. Bemoaning that everyone is fussing at him and to just leave him alone.
It is time to do and say the things he doesn’t want me to say and do…he refuses to leave the house. The house is too much. Even if there was a “sitter” who came in daily or even was there 24/7—there is still the maintenance of the 60 year old house, the leaks, the termites, the basement, the attic, the yard, the encroaching and changing growth of the city…. I don’t live there so I can’t just pop over everyday to check on them. If something happened, it’d take over an hour, with good traffic on the interstates, for me to get to them.

We need to sell the house and they need to move to a small assisted living community.
Or so I think that is the best idea. The most cost effective— or is it? What do I know?

There are no brothers or sisters to help in any of this—just me…and I don’t really know what I’m doing. They have been living very independent lives. My mom died almost 30 years ago and he and Gloria have been married almost 20 years…. it’s just that he’s stopped being a grown man—preferring to not be dad or pops…but a little boy who just wants life to be light, happy and continuously carefree. Which would be fine if he was willing to turn loose of all responsibilities concerning finances, allowing me to help—help paying the bills, etc.…

He’s my dad and I’ve never told him how things were going to be. Oh I’ve suggested strongly but not the “put the foot down you’re going to do as I say or else” kind of telling him what do to –because—he is my dad—you know, the dad who is the one who calls the shots, not the daughter…

I know he doesn’t want to leave the house. He’s lived in it since 1960. Gloria was good to come into a house that had the ghost of another woman. She’s made some changes but it’s still not the kind of house she ever wanted…but she knew he wouldn’t leave.

However now, I think there’s no choice.

I’ll go Tuesday and we’ll see.

I suddenly have a headache. This entire week of rain and gray gloomy skies has not helped how I’m now feeling today about all of this……the sun would at least help me feel a little hopeful.

Santo Subito

(Photograph: detail of painting by Julie Cook)

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
― John Paul II

(Photograph: watercolor/ mixed media painting by Julie Cook)