In the past week or so, my 91yo dad has gotten really mean to me. Could be a UTI, could just be advancing age (his mind has been very sharp) but he says things that are so precisely targeted that it is really hard to deal with. I know of course that he’s frustrated at his physical limitations, at all the things he can no longer do. But still...today I was on the phone for a little while helping a friend (of more than 40 years) prepare a complex church celebration (something I’m credentialed in). Dad wanted to know why my friend was still asking me to do things for him. I said I did it because I wanted to help him, because it’s something I enjoy and am called to do. I pointed out that when Dad was in intensive care, on a vent and about to be put on dialysis, I called my friend and he was there in 15 minutes (my dad was supposed to have been discharged that day, so it was something of a shock-nobody had called us!). I said that’s the kind of support we are for each other. Dad said, “well I didn’t see him so what good was he?” I was stunned.
He says I have to take of myself so that I can take care of him and my mother; I shouldn’t waste energy on other people. I’m an only child with no other family; I need my friends and love them dearly.
I am my parents’ sole caregiver, have been doing so for about 5 years since a little after I retired and I haven’t had a break since April of this year and no vacation in more than 6 years. I don’t resent it, don’t regret it. They are my priority. Dad just announces that he’s in a bad mood, and that everything he says gets him in trouble (that bit isn’t new, he always blames others for the negative reaction to his comments). Then he tells me I’m short-tempered.
So I’m done venting now, but I don’t know what to do avoid being a target. I usually gently walk away and retreat to my part of the house (yes, I live with them!) but this is escalating. I’m exhausted, sad, scared and I really just don’t know what to do.