View Full Version : Aging parents

Bart Leetch
01-19-2005, 4:08 PM
I am having a little problem with Dad's aging & want to keep him around for a few more years at almost 83 tomorrow is his birthday he gets tired easier than I'd like to see. I keep hearing that is normal but it is hard to accept. Now days when I visit him & we build or remodel something ( last time it was remodeling his computer desk) it seems he depends more on me to make more of the decisions on how its to be done & I do most of the work which I don't mine but it is hard to watch.

Dad was a custom home builder & custom cabinet builder & electrician & plumber a superintendent over large upscale apartment buildings, restaurants & public schools. He also did his own upholstery & made his own furniture.

I could never fill his shoes & don't intend to.

Are there others of you out there that are watching the closing years of a parents life & finding it a little hard to watch & how are you coping with it.

Jim O'Dell
01-19-2005, 4:29 PM
Yeah, Bart. I'm starting to see the start of it. My Dad's about 76, but his eyesite is failing. He has decided to give up woodworking, and therefore is parting out his tools to myself, and to others that need them, for the tools I don't have a place for. It is gut wrenching. Just 6 years ago he built a 24 X 30 dedicated shop to replace the one he and I built about 17 years ago (12 X 24). At 70, he did everything but pour the concrete by himself!! And since he and "his" dad were in the ready mix concrete business all of my growing years, I know he did the specs for the concrete as well.
Because of his eye problems and the surgery he has had, he can't strain at all at this time. I need him badly on my shop remodel, but I just can't ask him to come help, even though he would be here in a heartbeat if I asked. In fact, he helped me 3 3-day weekends last June build a fence at the house we just moved into this summer. I told him when I get to the electrical part, I'm going to have him come down, park in a chair in the middle of the shop, and answer questions and trouble shoot for me!!! We'll be praying that you have some good times yet with your dad. Jim.

Dan Gill
01-19-2005, 4:32 PM
Count your blessings. I lost my dad (and my mom) at the tender age of 12. He never got to teach me a lot of the things he knew. He wasn't a woodworker, but was an absolutely top-notch mechanic and could turn his hand to just about anything he really wanted to do.

Dave Wright #2
01-19-2005, 4:35 PM

We can relate, and there's quite a contrast between my parents and my wife's.

One set of parents attended a program maybe a decade ago where the presenter made a major point about people planning for their own retirement and eventual passage without burdening their children. So far it looks like they have done that - managed the finances properly and are now in a community of friends that provides a continuum of life settings from individual houses (where they are now) to apartments, to assisted living, and eventually to a fully staffed nursing home. I'm jealous because the community has a woodshop that's much better than mine!

The other set of parents has decided that they will die in their home, and have made no plans and done no research for care options when they get too old to take care of the house. Actually, they are already not able to take care of the house. Whenever we visit I bring tools and make a dent or two in their maintenance and repair needs. This set of parents is better off financially than the other, but IMO is likely to blow it all on account of their lack of foresight. It's their choice, but we just hope that they don't go in some grizzly way.

I can't tell if these situations are tougher mentally for us or for them. The worst is probably ahead of us though. I know what you mean about working with the fathers. Both of them were super competent and productive when younger. These days they mostly hang around while I'm working on their house, enjoy the company, and every now and then remark on how quickly and well whatever I'm doing is getting done. Those are nice social times.

Best, Dave

Tyler Howell
01-19-2005, 4:58 PM
It has been a nightmare for the past 5 years with my Mom. Had to pull the car keys this past summer. The panic calls at work for no reason are really wearing on me. We have a good healthcare team of sisters and friends but nothing has prepared me for this.
She was one sharp, tough ole broad, professional in medical care and briliant bridge player. She is well situated but won't spend a dime on her comfort.
Lots of prayers and do your best.
My mom made a comment that blew me away last week.
"Once a Woman, Twice a child":(

Ken Fitzgerald
01-19-2005, 5:01 PM
Bart, it's difficult to watch, I'm sure. I watch my father-in-law who's now age 85. He didn't take up golf until he was 65. While he owned his own business he golfed daily during the week and skipped the crowds on weekends. For over forty years twice annually, he went to Canada to help open, construct, renovate a BoyScout Camp. Last year he played golf 3 times, at the suggestion of his oldest son and my wife. Once his oldest son caddied for him, the other two times my wife caddied for him. Last year he decided to quit going to Canada in the spring and the fall because he wasn't sure he could take care of himself, work and enjoy the fishing. I've made that spring trip to Canada twice with the F-I-L and joined him working and fishing. I also watched him take care of the older friends there when their strength and health began failing them. I know if I was to ask him to help me finish my new shop, he'd be there in a moment. In fact, we just bought airline tickets for the I-Ls to come visit us in June. I'll ask him to help but I'll maintain a constant watch over him and stop when he becomes tired. He needs to feel useful, but he shouldn't overdo it, either.

Bart, I know it's hard but......my father died when I was 23 and he was age 46. My wife gave birth to our 3rd and final child 2 1/2 months after his death. For my 50th birthday, my youngest son, then a Naval officer in flight training at the time in Pensacola, commissioned a Pensacola artist to paint a oil portrait...in the painting..my youngest son is in the front lower middle in his officer dress whites....I'm in the upper right in my Navy dress blues...my Dad's in the upper left in his Navy dress blues. The artist painted the portrait from 3 different photographs taken over a 50 year span. Included with the nicely framed portrait was a note " Dad, you know how you've said you wished I could have met and gotten to know your Dad? This is probably as close as the 3 of us will be together in this life." I don't have to tell you I cried for nearly an hour after opening the gift. It's hard Bart, but enjoy!

Greg Mann
01-19-2005, 5:10 PM

I have experienced several ends of this spectrum. I lost my father when I was 15 to an auto accident; my mother is 92 and suffers from stroke related memory loss. She barely knows who I am these days other than she knows I'm somebody that is okay. Her general physical health is pretty good and she is not unhappy. She can't remember anything but somehow knows that she has enjoyed her life. In the past year I also lost a step-father with whom I shared 36 years as a business partner. He was 100% granite until a stroke 2 years ago. I have wonderful memories from them all.
Enjoy the time with him in whatever way you can, don't leave good things unsaid, and try to take comfort in the knowledge that none of us ever come to stay.


Douglas Robinson
01-19-2005, 5:46 PM
Iam lucky that my parents live 20 minutes away. Dad just turned 76. He is not a woodworker due to being born with an underdeveloped right arm. However, would not guess his age from meeting him. He is still very sharp. That being said, let me say that my father is the smartest man I have ever met. He skipped three grades growing up, graduated college 1t 19 with an electrical enineering degree, and had his masters degree in the same at 21. His memory is nearly photographic.

In the last few years he has begun to repeat himself. He cannot remember that he has told me something already and his ability to realize that the people he is talking to are losing interest in one topic or another is almost gone. I love him dearly, and he is my best friend, but I wonder if it will continue to get worse. It saddens me.

My Mom's health is worse than Dad's. The doctor just told her she shoul have both knees replaced. She is trying to lose 25 pounds before that. Watching her navigate 2 steps is painful to watch. I count myself lucky that they are still around and in possesion of their faculties.

You cannot do much about your Dad's health, but why not video tape conversations with him about some of his work and some of his projects, and/or your family history. It will engage his mind and be enjoyable for both of you. Besides you will be creating an archive for your kids.


Jim Fancher
01-19-2005, 5:48 PM
I lost my Dad in 2000. He was always so strong when I was younger. He could move a sheet of plywood around like it was nothing. It was terrible seeing him fight cancer.

I inherited his tools after his death. I didn't touch them until 2004, right before joining SMC. Before, I couldn't bring myself to do anything with them because of the memories. Now, that's exactly the reason I use them.

fred woltersdorf
01-19-2005, 5:59 PM
bart i lost my dad when he was 60(now my age).he was the nicest man i've ever known.my mother is in a nursing home and will celebrate her 96th birthday on this sunday with her 3 remaining children,8 grandchildren,and 5 great grandchildren.enjoy your time with you're parents,it's later than you think.

Joe Mioux
01-19-2005, 6:15 PM
Bart, I know how you feel

My mom has macular degeneration, alzheimers, suffered a stroke Dec 19, 2004 and came down with a bladder infection on December 23, 2004, which caused all kinds of problems. She was in the hospital from Dec 23, 2004 until Jan 9, 2005. She is going thru three types of therapy everday. She is 80, and up until Dec 2003 worked everyday in the shop.
On the other hand, my dad is 85 and in December he planted 3000 easter lilies, 1200 hydrangeas, and today started planting some 500 hanging baskets. He is affraid to quit working because he thinks he will die.

Steve Knowlton
01-19-2005, 8:01 PM
Bart, Cherish each and every moment you have. I lost my dad and best friend 3 years ago. He had a massive stroke. i got to sit at the hospital with my mother and watch my dad fade into eternity. i cherish the last time we worked to gether. He taught me all about working with wood. Dad collected pens and when i started turning pens i got very emotional. it brings back the memories of all the fun i had growing up. One lesson i learned was that i never told my dad how much i loved him. my family will pray for many more good years for you. GOD BLESS

Steve Ash
01-19-2005, 8:06 PM
Bart, I guess I have been blessed. My Mom will be 79 in April and Dad 80 in June. Both are very busy doing what interests them, and live about a mile away. I have had the pleasure to be very close to them my entire life. My dad was a farmer (1640 acres/300 head of brood cows) and I farmed with him until I turned 30 and became a full time building contractor. Still to this day he will come to my jobsite and help me with what he can...hook up the trusses to the crane and use the guide rope to help position them in place, he always wants to do the staining and varnishing the trim on my house projects, he runs to the lumber yard to pick up what I might need. Just last winter he asked me to help build him his own woodworking shop so he had something to do on rainy days (he taught 4-H woodworking for a long time) He has several interests that occupy his time, he has restored 8 antique tractors from the 20's and 30's including a 1926 Huber that was his dad's tractor. Mom has her flowers and garden as well as grandkids. She loves to also come to my jobsites with dust pan and broom as well as window cleaner and floor cleaners. They both enjoy helping me out, and I'm tickled to have them.....the only complaint is they refuse to take any pay.

Marshall Harrison
01-20-2005, 7:45 AM
I lost my father 24 years ago last month. My greatest regret in life is that he never met my wife and 4 kids. I think he would have made a great grandad. I still miss him and at times it's tough but life goes on.

Mom is 77 and still living alone. She is in pretty good health as are my inlaws (77 & 80). I'm sure the day is coming when they will no longer be with us but I try not to think about it. Just enjoy the time we have left.

Someone suggested video taping conversations with your dad and I think that is a great idea. I have some video tape of my first born (6 wks old then - 14 yrs now)with his great grandparents taken about a year or so before they passed away. I just set the camera in the corner of the room and taped what ever was said. My grandmother reminiscing about my mother as a baby is priceless.
All we can do is pray and enjoy them as much as we can.