I wrote a letter to my brother addressing the conflict over the care I provide to dad.

Follow
Share

After the Holidays, my older brother told me, among other things, that he didn't like the man I was dating and that he thought my job right now is to take care of our father. "He may not be around next year at this time, then you can do whatever you want, but until then, your job is to take care of dad and you shouldn't let any guy distract you from your job." We have not spoken except for a few words since then. I want to send him a letter. He has no idea what my day to day life is like living with my 83 year old father and my three young daughters.

I have been a stay at home mom for my three girls, and since my divorce from their father, I have been living with and caring for my father. Thanks to a small spousal support payment, I have not had to go back to work yet. I've been his full time caregiver for the last three years. I'm tired, stressed, anxious...you name it. I've read enough around here to know you all understand where I'm coming from. Some days are good, some days are just plain rotten. Today was a rotten day.


Dear Brother,

I know you've told me how you feel. I hoped you would change your mind, but I don't see that happening. I had a horrible dream that we were at Dad's funeral and you wouldn't even speak to me then. It breaks my heart that at this time that I need family more than ever, I feel so alone.

I hope you realize how hard this is for me. Dad doesn't sleep well at night, so I'm up with him several times during the night and getting him dressed at 3am because he's done sleeping and wants to go downstairs to his chair. He gets sick during most meals and doctors can't tell me why. He sleeps for a good part of every day and all the noise my rotten kids make can't keep him awake. He wonders why no one calls him anymore. I encourage him to make calls, but he says, "they don't want to talk to me."

He fell in the bathroom this morning at 4 am. He's fine, but it took my daughter and I quite a while and a lot of struggle to get him up off the floor. She's been a great help, but she needs a break too. I can't even take my kids away for the weekend, I feel guilty leaving him at home for the couple of hours it takes to see a movie with them. They ask when they can go up to visit their cousins again. What do I tell them? Uncle and Auntie are busy? A big part of the reason I'm here is because I want my children to grow up close to their cousins and aunts and uncles.

What is it that I was doing that was so bad? I was trying to have a life with a wonderful, kind-hearted man that loved me and loved my children? Guess I failed at that too, huh? My relationship with XXXX has suffered greatly since our conversation. Guilt. You made me feel guilty for wanting a normal life. Sometimes I feel as if I deserve nothing but a life of servitude until my service is no longer needed. What about what I owe to my own children? What about that care-free life they left behind when I packed all of our things in that Uhaul after the divorce and stashed them away in your storage space? Thank you again for letting me store my things there as long as you did. I never realized it was going to be such a long time.

I often ask mom for help, like she's an angel watching over me. "What do you want me to do Mom?" I hope I'm doing what she would have wanted. I'm doing the best I can, but I could sure use some help.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Find Care & Housing
11

Comments

Show:
dear troubles why is it that some family members are never around but as soon some one dies and there a possibility of money that when every one shows up. I dont think you sister should get something but not much would it just go to drugs or alcholol what a shame that your parents worked and saved all there lives so she could wait it on that. i would give somethig to her children so thay can remember the parents who raised them . maybe put the majority of her share in an accountso that is one day she cleans here self up[ you can give it to her if that never happens then give it to a charity in your parents name . that would be a better way to honor your parents than drugs. and what every amount you give her tell her that is all there is that the hopital and nursing home bill took care of the bulk of it because she may keep commming around. or tell her she must go to rehab before any money will be given to her. i think if sahw makes a stink about that tell her you would take it to a judge to decide. if you the executive dont you have say over things or is it written she gets half no matter what? thats how it is with my sister it says in the will she has control and can distubuet the money at her discretion even though its to be split 4 ways. good luck with every thing miak
(0)
Report

Let me start by saying---Hello to everyone and I feel your frustrations.Three years ago my mother was diagnosed with Lukemiea..At that time Iwas traveling 80 miles round trip to be with my mother and father (sometimes I would stay for a week or two at a time) other wise it was everyday. Threw her numerous hospital stays and eventually a nursing home(until we were told it wasn't much longer) and then I insisted we wanted her home. I was holding my mothers hand when she took her last breath.....I stayed with my father for awhile, But I did have a home and resposibilty to care for. My husband and I remodeled a bedroom,on the first floor with his own bathroom and all anemeties, for my father to move in with us. My father was very stubborn...He wanted to stay in the home he had been in for over 50 years with my mother........His health started failing,I started taking him to all his appointments (80+ miles),cooking all his meals(made ahead and frozen weekly) cleaning his house,doing laundry,etc.etc.My father did not seem to be doing well one day so I took him to the doctor. Oh did I mention that I have a so called sister..........She may have called once to talk to my mother NEVER came to see her or offer help..DITTO for my father.She called when my father and said she would come see him. She never showed up. I was with my father everyday I was told there was nothing more they could do. It was Saturday and I was determinded to get him home.I left him and told him I Loved Him,and that I was going to try to get things set up for him(hospice nursing). I got back to my fathers house and after making many frustrating phone calls to no avail I hung up. Next phone call was the hospital......my father had a heart attack and in trying to bring him back broke numerous ribs and was without oxygen for 10 minutes. I was left with the dissescion of my fathers life. My father was 87 years and he had told me not to prolong his life. My Father passed away 8/02/08 I was Holding His Hand......... I arranged the funeral, priest etc,etc,etc. My so called sister never showed up. Now she wants everything. I am the executrix to the estate and even though I am trying to be fair 50% 50% I am finding it very difficult. I have not talked to her for over twenty years,she is heavly into drugs and alchol and had abandoned 2 children(which my parents raised) I want to give 1 of my fathers cars to one of her sons(She hasn't talked to him- He wants nothing to do with her) Wouldn't it be considered 50% 50% if I just gave it to him This poor kid deserves something. Thank you so much for letting me unload this enormous burden I have been carrying around with me. ME
(0)
Report

Let me start by saying---Hello to everyone and I feel your frustrations.Three years ago my mother was diagnosed with Lukemiea..At that time Iwas traveling 80 miles round trip to be with my mother and father (sometimes I would stay for a week or two at a time) other wise it was everyday. Threw her numerous hospital stays and eventually a nursing home(until we were told it wasn't much longer) and then I insisted we wanted her home. I was holding my mothers hand when she took her last breath.....I stayed with my father for awhile, But I did have a home and resposibilty to care for. My husband and I remodeled a bedroom,on the first floor with his own bathroom and all anemeties, for my father to move in with us. My father was very stubborn...He wanted to stay in the home he had been in for over 50 years with my mother........His health started failing,I started taking him to all his appointments (80 miles),cooking all his meals(made ahead and frozen weekly) cleaning his house,doing laundry,etc.etc.My father did not seem to be doing well one day so I took him to the doctor. Oh did I mention that I have a so called sister..........She may have called once to talk to my mother NEVER came to see her or offer help..DITTO for my father.She called when my father and said she would come see him. She never showed up. I was with my father everyday I was told there was nothing more they could do. It was Saturday and I was determinded to get him home.I left him and told him I Loved Him,and that I was going to try to get things set up for him(hospice nursing). I got back to my fathers house and after making many frustrating phone calls to no avail I hung up. Next phone call was the hospital......my father had a heart attack and in trying to bring him back broke numerous ribs and was without oxygen for 10 minutes. I was left with the dissescion of my fathers life. My father was 87 years and he had told me not to prolong his life. My Father passed away 8/02/08 I was Holding His Hand......... I arranged the funeral, priest etc,etc,etc. My so called sister never showed up. Now she wants everything. I am the executrix to the estate and even though I am trying to be fair 50% 50% I am finding it very difficult. I have not talked to her for over twenty years,she is heavly into drugs and alchol and had abandoned 2 children(which my parents raised) I want to give 1 of my fathers cars to one of her sons(She hasn't talked to him- He wants nothing to do with her) Wouldn't it be considered 50% 50% if I just gave it to him This poor kid deserves something. Thank you so much for letting me unload this enormous burden I have been carrying around with me. ME
(0)
Report

Hi, bbweb! I held my breath as I read your story and your letter to your brother. I am glad you got that out on paper and even had time to re-read your thoughts and words and then to reflect further upon your hurt and the pain you are feeling arising from your brother's total disregard for your feelings and need for a balanced life.

From one caregiver to another, I would say you brother has a lot of nerve telling you what you need to be doing for your Dad when he doesn't seem to be actively involved in your Dad's care. Isn't that like the teapot calling the kettle blacK? If you ever write to your brother or talk to him anytime soon, you may want to ask him what is HIS plan to take care of your Dad in the manner that he believes your Dad needs to be cared for?

Regarding your feelings of guilt, guilt is yours to accept, or not, or you may say out loud each time you start to feel those guilty pangs: "I have no reason to feel guilty! I am a responsible and loving caregiver to my Dad."

Caregivers do not need added stress, bbweb, so shake the dust of your brother's selfish words off your back and keep right on living and loving. I know about the little sleep at nighttime. My Mom is up for doing little tasks when it comes time to go to sleep, so sleep time is prolonged by at least 1-2 hours each night. Like you, I am a full-time caregiver and my focus is my Mom's, and my own health and well-being. Those are full-time responsibilities. You have children and need to achieve and maintain balance in your life.

Time to ditch that guilt
(0)
Report

hi bbweb. I also care for my 92 year old mom - in fact my grand ma but I call her ma because it is her who raised me- and yes my biological ma is alive and rarely even calls her mom as she tries to avoid her. that communication issue has been a problem with us as well. and ever since when I was a little child. then, if she got sick or less moving she was either coughing, or clearing her throat when wanted or needed things or when she wanted something to be done for her. and now it is all the time like that. and you have to guess what it is as she never or rarely says.
Sometimes that makes me crazy as that makes me a servant waiting always upon her ready to serve. we- with my hubby- even tried to force her to communicate when she needed something by not answering such wierd calls but that does not work either. because then she coughes to death or stops but gets really really upset and aggressive. hubby accuses me by spoiling her but I think she does that because she feels ashamed . she wants to be served but she does not want to be in the position of verbally or consciously wanting or demanding this. So she disguises this. . yes these times are all difficult for us. but believe it is also really difficult for them. they feel young inside. they do have desires and dreams but their body do not suffice and they in fact hate to be dependent upon us. they cant even chose to leave us. they need protection. they need to be cared for. they are like toddlers - only that they are not easy to be decieved- who are in need of endless love. they want to declare their independence but when they fall or fail short to do anything they just need you help and need to be cuddled. they fear that you will get bored with them and all of a sudden leave them. it is really hard to be a mother to your own mother or father but just think that this is one of your children god has gifted you and act as such. Since my father has passed everday was a new adventure sometimes a nightmare with her. ı left my job, ı am buried in debt, my own relationship went bad, and I was never able to make my own children -and my time is ticking- because my parents were so old and mom was usually sick and needed my care , all my friends left me because their parents are younger and they really do not understand what I am really through, but I know that I am doing good and doing what should have been done. Instead of being only a caring hand be a loving one_ and that is waht you are since you choose to be with him_ and for sure god will be loving and helping hand for you. And whenever you feel exhausted and crying just pray and remember that they have been lively once. They cared for you once. and they did chose you ove other things may their own dreams -you can never know. them being old is not our fault but it is not their fault as well. thanks to god that he has somebody like you by his side. can you imagine that he was left to your brother's arms ? do you think he would be patient enought to care for him? do you think would be ratioanle or reponsible? Sorry but I don't think so. İf he would, he would find a way to be by your and his side now. and remember that there are so many out there at care houses with noone calling. they are all alone. wahtever your father says or does, he is sure glad to have you. it is only that you are the only one to show coyness- hope that is the right word I am not a native speaker-. you are the only one that he can lean to. thanks god that you are there and you are strong. health, patience and affection be with you. I am sure we all caregivers understand and love each other. best wishes
(0)
Report

Stir Crazy, are you OK? I indulged in some major retail therapy this last week. I know I'll pay for it later, but gosh it felt good to get out and SHOP. I would dash away for an hour or so after breakfast and be back before my Kindergartner got off the bus. Most of the shopping was for other people, but it was very theraputic. Dad got a few new sweatshirts, girls all got some new clothes, I found some SHOES!
(0)
Report

Thank you all for your comments and support. I haven't heard yet from my brother...neither has my dad, but you're right, just typing that letter, without sending it, was extremely helpful.

I encouraged dad to try to do some things on his own today. I think he is capable of so much more than he shows.

Stircrazy, I can relate to the name. I feel that way sometimes too....and when I'm not feeling stircrazy, I'm feeling guilty because that means I've gotten out of the house on my own. Crazy, huh? Today I got myself a highlight and a hair cut. Dad was home napping, kids were in school. Ah, delightful.

Do any of your parents make strange noises instead of normal communication? My dad moans, or says this breathy "yeah" sound when he needs something instead of just saying, "Barb, can you get me a drink of water?" he will sit in his chair and moan until I ask him if he needs something. Then he'll say, "get me something to drink." He got mad at my 6yr old today for asking for a glass of lemonade. "You always want something, you're never satisified with what you have, always need something else..." Does it sound like he has a problem with asking for things? Resentful maybe that he needs to ask someone else, that he can't do it himself?
(0)
Report

As I am reading this I am crying my eyes out. I am dealing with brothers and sisters who have no idea what it takes to care for my 85 year old father. I am the youngest of 10 children and am the main caregiver for my father. My father has dementia, macular degeneration, bad knees, history of falls, agitation, depression, aggression, etc, etc, etc. I do everything for him from preparing his meals, clean his house, pay his bill, take him to doctors appointments and anywhere else he wants to go. He is at times combative and unreasonable. Taking him anywhere involves trying to make sure he doesn't use profanity in front of others and make a scene. Of my six sisters and three brothers, five live in the area and two offer minimal help. One of my sisters thinks she does so much by stopping by one morning a week and making him breakfast and then dropping him off at the local Senior Center. She loves to report back to me what she did as if it somehow compares to what I do. I actually get offended by her patting herself on the back. I have given up my life as I knew it 3 1/2 years ago when my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and I put my life on hold to take care of her. I am married with two children. At that time my daughter was graduating high school and my son was in middle school. My daughter is now a junior in college and my son is a sophomore in high school. I have missed so many experiences I should have had with them because I had to choose my father over them. They understand completely, but I feel guilty about it. My mother died and I had made her a promise to take care of my dad. I will not let her down. It has been and exhausting 3 years since she died. I cry myself to sleep most nights with everything that is on my mind concerning my father. He was a great man who is now reduced to someone he would never want to be. I am faced with putting him in an ALF anytime now because of his falls. This will kill him. I will keep him home as long as I can, which might kill me. I have severe guilt because I sometimes daydream of the day I will have my life back because that will mean my father had died. My siblings just go on living their lives as if nothing is going on that they should be concerned about. I wish I had the luxury of having such a carefree life, but I would never abandon my father. I know that when the time comes and he is gone I will have no regrets. I was there for him when he needed me most. I just hope I survive it.
(0)
Report

BBweb, you said you never should have written that letter? I think its a good thing that you wrote it. You didn't send it, so it did no harm. But I bet you felt a little better immediately after you wrote it. Putting your thoughts and frustrations on paper (or, typing them on a computer) is great therapy. Counselors recommend it to their patients all the time. That's what AgingCare is for: To find the support you need, without worrying about feeling judged or "in the wrong." We're glad you wrote!
(0)
Report

Dear bbweb, I"m sorry you're having such a hard time of it with your brother. I know what that feels like. You are a very courageous and loving daughter to take care of your (and your brother's) dad as you are. And this on top of raising your own 3 daughters. You deserve an award. Your brother's unfortunate comments to you were very selfish and naive on his part. I tried to put myself in your place as I read your letter to him. I can identify with much of what you said. His words were very hurtful. He has wounded your heart with his callous attitude, which leaves you feeling alone and frustrated. I'm so sorry that you have felt guilty because of what he said to you, and that it's affected your relationship with your friend. Each family has their own dynamic, and it's only for you to know how best to talk with your brother. I had a similar situation with my brother and was wisely encouraged to step back first to think through and establish my own boundaries of what I would accept and not accept from him. In doing this I was able to start coming out of the fog I was walking around in where all I did was care for others. It's so important to keep a firm grip on a sense of who we are, by ourselves. To keep a high value on our worth as human beings, and to plan and allow ourselves moments to enjoy life. Otherwise, we'll just kind of fade away... I came very close to doing that, and I'm so glad that I had a friend who was honest with me and encouraged me to find my strength again and speak with authority and confidence to my brother. I had to accept that he may never 'get it', but I needed to establish myself with him as an equal and not as a subordinate. It can be very easy to step into that role with our family when we are the caregiver of the parent(s). They don't necessarily want to 'participate' with us in caring for them, and because they often feel guilty about that, they will instead try to 'manage' or 'oversee' us in how our parent is cared for, which gives them a sense of being involved. In reality, they are not involved at all, and are only trying to ease their own concience. I know it's hard to be strong, especially when your exhausted all the time... so just know that you are appreciated and valued by all of us here, who understand and admire what you are doing for your dad and your daughters. I wish the very best for you and your family. Take good care of yourself... :-)
(0)
Report

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Related
Questions