I'm struggling to recall "happy" times with my father near the end of his life.

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This seems to be constantly in my thoughts at the moment and when he does die I don't think I will have many nice "times" to remember him by. My parents relationship with us has always been a parent/child relationship, with my father in charge and us & my Mum doing his bidding. I don't even want to go to his funeral, if he has one, and remember him in a wooden box.

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Julie, as for how our parents raised us, sometimes all we need to look back another generation to see your Dad had learned from his own parents, and his parents from his grandparents, etc.

Have a sit down with the siblings and only talk about the time goods, there might be some things that you had forgotten, and so have your siblings.

Funerals are just a tiny drop of time. My Dad had passed this past September and rarely do I ever think about him in his casket, same with my Mom who passed the year prior. I had learned to remember one's life, not their death.

Thanks for your reply. My father has always been very controlling, always expecting everyone to do his bidding, never praising us and could be very angry. My brother is at the stage where he visits infrequently, maybe every 3 months, and I haven't visited for 2 weeks now after being yelled out the house again. When I next visit I'll get the silent treatment from him & I'll feel awkward with my Mum, she supports my Dad totally & just tells us he's "not well", that's been her response for 30 years. My kids say he's totally disrespectful.
Julie, there are no perfect families. Even the Norman Rockwell illustrations include a little boy running away from home.

Some families are so far from perfect as to be called dysfunctional. I'm afraid it sounds like yours was one of them.

I'm certainly no expert on this subject, but it seems to me the healthiest thing to do is to recognize that you grew up in a dysfunctional family, that it was Not Your Fault, and to revise your expectations accordingly. I don't think it is realistic to look forward to having warm, comforting memories of you father. Again, Not Your Fault. But it is what it was and what it is. Maybe a few happy or funny or poignant memories will pop up once in a while. Fine. Enjoy them. But don't expect that to be a frequent pattern.

Freqflyer is right that often these dysfunctional patterns are handed down in families. If you and your brother have managed to break that cycle in your own families, good for you! That is an accomplishment to be proud of.

Decide about the funeral when the time comes. Maybe it will do you good to see him powerless in a wooden box. But do it only if it feels right to you.

Why do you visit more often than your brother does? What do you get out of it? It apparently isn't good for your father or mother. So who is benefiting from these visits?
Hi Jeannegibbs, Yep I'm coming more to the conclusion that our family is dysfunctional with a narcissist as a father. Both me & my brother have broken the pattern & we have wonderful free spirited kids following their dreams! unlike me & my brother! I already see him as powerless with his severe CHF/diabetes but he still has his voice which can be nasty and his "look" which is evil. Me & my kids & husband have been clearing & maintaining their garden for over a year now & my husband takes them to appointments, I don't drive. I enjoyed doing the garden for my own pleasure, I love seeing things transformed & the kids got pocket money. My husband does tip trips with the rubbish. I also felt obliged to do their garden as they can't do it anymore., aside from myself really enjoying gardening. We all benefited from the visits but maybe not my husband being the refuse man. However my father yelled me out the house 4 weeks ago for doing something in the garden that he'd previously given me permission for. Now visits are reduced and more like "duty" visits.
Been there with the duty visits. (Not that I ever loved paying bills, writing out stacks of greeting cards, buying groceries, raking leaves....!)

In her healthy years, Mom always did things HER way. That would be the "right" way. Even if it was illogical and inefficient. Even if there were other ways to complete the task. Didn't matter. Had to be her way.

SO......combine decades of dismissing everyone else's opinions with mobility issues + personality/cognitive blunting from an undiagnosed neurological disorder + Alzheimer's creeping in (also undiagnosed). Wow. Just wow.

And the SLOWNESS. Jeezus, Mary and Joseph! When I helped Mom in her later years, everything had to be at her snail's pace. If a task was completed at a healthy, agile person's pace, she would question the process and challenge the outcome. Because that's not how she would (have taken all day to) do it.

Funny/not funny: When I was growing up, my mom was the Great Helper Of Others. She would see need -- or what she perceived as need -- and do menial tasks, shopping runs, etc for others. It was a huge part of Mom's identity. I was always hearing how "nice" my mom was.

Took me many, many years to realize that Mom was often imposing her will on others. Making herself "important" by doing things people didn't necessarily ask her to do. A control move.

Mom would thrive on the initial praise. Then drop away when the expectation grew into a burdensome routine....or when she wasn't getting enough adulation for emptying a vacuum bag better than anyone else who ever walked the earth, etc.

Fast-forward a few decades. Mom actually needs help. She's so isolated and weird that she doesn't trust anyone (doesn't want anyone to know how she really lives) -- other than me and another close relative.

So I'm spending my limited free time doing the exact same sh*t for Mom that I also need to be doing for myself. Any wonder I want to get these tasks done quickly??!?!

Old deteriorating Mom hates having these needs. To the point that she denies needing help with anything other than keeping bills paid and maintaining a shaky veneer of normalcy.......if someone is far enough away and squints.

And probably having flashbacks to her old "praise me"/"aw, shucks, it's nothing" approach to helping others, right??? As she sits across the table, receiving my help. AAARGH.

And oooh boy, Mom was not receptive to any suggestions I made. Every "Mom day" could go only one of two ways: I could mirror exactly what was going on in her slow, old, impaired mind OR I could make "functioning people's suggestions" and be told to go home.

So yeah......those happy times at the end? Not so much. I now know (in excruciating detail) that getting old sucks. But I was not prepared for the gulf between the decades of having normal conversations and exchanges with Mom (God, when WAS that...?) and -- unfortunately -- the more recent Mom.

It's like my way-back machine is on the fritz. I can only remember the normal years in fragments and flashes. But blank-faced, irrational Gimpy Mom who hoarded junk mail and smelled like dirty hair from 10-feet away? Can't get her off my mind.
Many thanks for your amazing reply Blackhole !x Sent you a message on your board Blackhole. Yesterday my Dad went for one of his twice weekly leg clinic appointments. My husband took him and my Mum goes with him as he is very unstable. I used to go with him to give Mum a break but he's giving me the silent treatment so I've made my decision to stand back and let them get on with it. If they need my help they can ask but I'm no longer offering. Anyway, my husband told me when he got back that my Dad fell outside the clinic. My Mum can't help him up as she has Rheumatoid Arthritis and is not too well. Nurses helped him up & got him a wheelchair, he would NOT get in the wheelchair, carried on using his single cane - he should be using a walking frame which he won't. He's a bit scratched & bruised but no broken bones that we know of. My Mum's response to this fall - he's so independent - my response to this fall - he's so bloody selfish & thoughtless, self centered. Previously I'd have rung to check he was okay & tell him off but I didn't yesterday. My husband said he was ok, my Dad even had a little laugh about it, Mum was distraught, so, if they can't be bothered to tell me about incidents why should I be bothered to phone & find out. As Mum says & it's her favourite saying - he's so independent & she likes to think of herself as independent too. That fall was luckily at the clinic. Where will the next fall be? Possibly at home/garden then it'll be a 999 call to help. (Maybe if I had gone with him yesterday he wouldn't have fallen as I've grabbed him to steady him at previous appointments.)
Why should you be bothered to find out...

Well. I can think of lots of reasons why you might, but I don't know which apply to you, or not.

For example. Do you want to know what's going on? If you do, that's one reason to ask.
Can you do anything to help your parents? If so, that's another.
Or, is it a complete waste of time and mental energy? In that case, that's a very good reason not to bother asking, and just to call your mother for a cheerful, encouraging, sympathetic chat when you feel like it instead.

The point is, that it might be less teeth-gritting if you were to focus more on what you're aiming for, and less on your father's self-defeating pigheadedness and what it says about his attitude to you.

What sort of support are your parents getting at home, any at all? If your mother has RA to cope with, her GP might be able to help with a referral to social services for her, rather than your father.

The situation you're in is frustrating and emotionally painful too. It's very difficult. Have you had any thoughts about what you would like (in an ideal world) for your mother's future? Or, come to that, about what you would like - again, in the idealised scenario - from your father before it's too late for him to do or say anything much?

What's telling is that you still fear the disapproval of a helpless, frail, sick old man. He can scowl all he likes, but if you weren't fearful at heart how would his howls and grimaces stop you weeding the garden?

One thing I have discovered with the odd bully who's bothered me over the years is that you are free to disapprove right back, you know. "Having a dig, are we?" you can think to yourself. "Well, two can play at that game."

On a purely technical point, don't grab at someone to stop them falling. If they really are falling, you won't catch them in time but you might dislocate their elbow or shoulder. And if they're not, if they're just having a wobble, you'll annoy them and bruise their arm. Your friendly neighbourhood physio can show you how to support an unsteady person correctly (they hold your arm, not the other way round, and you keep your free arm around their hip, holding them against you - it's all to do with leverage). And if the person won't allow that, and the person is not suffering from dementia, and the person falls having refused assistance, that's their choice.

Look. If pride is that important to your father, let him keep it and on his head be it. What worries me more is your mother: stress and RA go hand in hand, and from what you've said it seems to me that she's the person who really needs to be supported.

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