Dad and I began our care journey closer to the beginning of his Parkinson diagnosis when I was so naive to believe all that was involved were shaky hands. It sounded tolerable until I began to observe the difficulty he had eating, drinking, shaving, cooking, driving and the loss of creative abilities that enriched his being such as building ships from the ground up.
It may sound corny, but to understand and learn, I made myself do those daily activities like I had tremors, rigidity, freezing and slowness. This was eye opening for me because not only was dads speed of movement being challenged, but my speed as a caregiver had to adapt with him. Walking, running, turning, bending, standing and so much more were affected.
I had to put myself in my dad’s shoes if I were to come remotely close to his experience with Parkinson’s. I used dad’s cane and was laughingly clumsy. I used his walker to navigate in his surroundings which went well enough until I encountered small doorways and step downs –those were my nemesis and his. And the wheelchair.... forget it! I think I pulled more caregiver muscles than I realized I had!
I did my best to admit my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual foibles to dad so he knew he wasn’t alone. A father/daughter care team comes with its own set of challenges. I used humor as much as I could. Often at my expense, but I was okay embracing more humility.
I can say so much more, but my father was tenacious, brave, determined, graceful and honorable to the very end. He taught me tenacity, bravery, determination, gracefulness (even when I made mistakes in care), to respect his capabilities, wishes and dreams, and to support his decisions on how he wanted this stage of his life to play out. My father deserved to have that control. I, his caregiver-daughter, became that advocate to see that he kept it.
Miss you, dad,