Lessons From A Nursing Home

I never really thought about it, the fact that each moment you can walk out of a door to the outside should be regarded as a great moment.  Or the chance you have to sit outside your home and watch the trees blow in the wind.  Or the fact that when you get to pick what you want for dinner and feed yourself you should rejoice.   I never thought about these things until my family was brought face to face with the world of a nursing home.

As many know who follow my Facebook, my beloved Dad recently passed away after being in the nursing home for over three years.  Dad was an amazing man. Full of love and wisdom, hugs and humor.  To watch his decline and spend his last days holding his hand have left me quite emotional and if I am truthful, quite pensive.  I prayed for his peace, I prayed for him to go to God, and now that he has, we are left…thinking.

I can remember one particular Sunday, after being there at around 9:00 to noon to help my mom.  I was headed home, I rounded the corner to get to the door and I looked at a little older gentleman in a wheelchair.  He was sitting there staring out the door…just staring.  I said” good afternoon” to him and also “excuse me”  as I went around his chair and pushed open the first of two doors to get out.  I was greeted by fresh, cold air (it was Winter).  But that air that felt too cold just the other day, felt fantastic at that moment.  It was that one moment, that one second in my life I will alway remember.  I was alive, able to move, able to go where I wanted.The man in the wheelchair could only look.  This moment has been the catalyst to so many thoughts over the three years.

I used to hate that my Dad was living in a rectangle, he had his room in a building that was literally a rectangle.  I hated that Dad could not talk and share his feelings and fears and I hated that all the belongings Dad needed could fit into the small closet and three drawers in his room.   Dad was so well cared for and watched over by caregivers each day.  He was never lonely and he was loved so very much.  I wanted to honor my Dad by taking away some thoughts from his journey that ended in early May.

For those who have read my previous blogs, it comes as no surprise that I spent a good portion of those three years thinking about Dad and his current life.  And I don’t mean while I was there only. I mean most of the time.  My brain was divided almost constantly, from what I was actually doing to what my children needed, to what does Elizabeth needs that day and how is Dad doing.  I offer out from this that I made a promise to be more in the moment.  To try to be fully engaged in the “now”.  As parents of these special children, we can find ourselves thinking of the next therapy, day or event and lose a bit of the good of the moment.  I am trying to see Elizabeth’s beautiful eyes as she talks and really seeing and listening to her at that moment.

So many times during Dad’s ill years there were many medical situations to talk about, schedules to work out and emotions to deal with. There were so many BIG topics to talk about.  It was exhausting.  I wanted to offer out a thought that I again promised myself I would do….to have LIGHT conversations.  To talk about the little things in life, to laugh about a joke, to enjoy many topics, to relax when you are talking.   It is okay to NOT handle a therapy schedule, to plan an outing or schedule a phone consultation.  It is okay to settle into the easy topics for a bit.  It makes talking about the tough ones a bit easier when you have refreshed yourself.

It is okay to make time for yourself, to compartmentalize a bit.  The big stuff will be there.  As parent’s of special needs children, we know this.  But to mentally put it in a box for a few moments is okay.   We all need this and after the years with my Dad, I know that carrying all feelings with you each moment is too too much.

My Dad was here, creating the best home for his children, and grandchildren.  There was love, plain and simple.  The great unconditional kind that never knew an end.  He is now gone but to honor his journey I will do my best to keep those promises to myself.  To remember them when I want to forget them.  I will remember that cold, delicious air that Sunday.   May you rest in peace, my sweet Dad.  You will be loved forever.

4 thoughts on “Lessons From A Nursing Home

  1. So touched by my introduction to your writing. Sounds like your Dad was teaching you the important lessons right up to his passing and beyond. I would add that your Dad’s goodness and love are things – like that cold, fresh air that’s not available inside the nursing home – that not all children of Dads get. Your gratitude is clear, as are the sweet lessons in this post: love, honor, breathe, take a moment to appreciate…

  2. I lost my mom a few months ago so these were comforting words she has passed on but will always be in my heart

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