Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thanks for being there for me, Dad

Today is my dad's 87th birthday—feel free to send him happy birthday karma. Here he is with eight-month-old Max.

The fact that my dad is 87 is awe-inspiring.

It also scares the heck out of me.

I don't call or visit him nearly as much as I should; explaining the reasons for that would require several cases of red wine and extensive psychotherapy. But one of them is surely this: I distance myself from my father now to mentally prepare myself for the day when he will be gone. I am inherently terrified of being left alone in this world without my parents. I will have Dave, of course, and my sister, but otherwise, the weight of raising a kid with special needs will lie solely on our shoulders. Dave's family has never been there for us in the selfless way that my parents have.

Raising a kid with special needs thrusts you into being a mature, ├╝ber-responsible parent, one who has to deal with big concerns, big problems, big doctors, all the biggies. Yet I continue to take comfort in knowing my mother and father are there for me, and that I myself am still someone's child.


  1. Barbara from BostonJanuary 5, 2010 at 1:17 AM

    God Bless you Dad: Happy happy day Grandparents are so special- nobody spoils a kid as joyously or as thoroughly as them. Max and Sabrina are lucky ducks. Birthdays abound this week. My mom-in -law turns 89 Thursday.
    P.S. Baby Max's tummy and cheeks were delicious. Thanks for brightening the day

  2. "I distance myself from my father now to mentally prepare myself for the day when he will be gone. I am inherently terrified of being left alone in this world without my parents.".....WOW, words couldnt express this beter!! Just wanted to let you know-im feeling the same feelings and emotions lately! My dad has NPH and my mother has her own problems everyday. And my brain goes off all the time, and is constantly in panic and worse case scenerio mode! Scares the heck outta me too- and i have no siblings to lay back on.. besides my husband and kids. But i feel they just dont understand! Just needed to add my 2 cents-hope its ok??:-) Plus happy bday to your day-till 120!

  3. Isn't it awful to watch them age? My parents are both in a bit of a nosedive these days, and it is really hard. I know I won't have the time to care for them as they have greater needs develop, and they have never been all that involved in their grandkids' lives so it won't affect my kids or my sister's much, but it will be a loss for me, that, like you, is based on my need for them to not leave me alone, even if I am indeed successful at being self sufficient.

  4. Happy birthday to your dad.
    And you'll always be Someone's child. Don't distance yourself now (says the chick who does the same thing to her parents for VERY different reasons. ;)

  5. I have been following Max for some time and this is my first post, first thanks for stopping by and seeing Jonathans blog we are very proud of him. Second this post is powerful because I feel the same way I may be 30 yrs old but I depend on my parents, my dad especially. My parnets live with us mon-fri and go home on the weekends I dont know what I will do if anything should happen to them there both 50 yrs old so I know they have awhile but its still scary! Anyway thanks for being completly honest in your blog its nice to know people that dont sugarcoat everthing! BTW Max is awesome I love his independance, his spunk and that he loves the color purple!

  6. There's nothing like parents. Believe me, I know that. There's nothing like indulgent grandparents, either, for that matter. I don't know what I'd do without my folks--they were way-too-young parents when they had all of us kids (they're only twenty one years older than me--people think me and my mom are sisters half the time), so I am a few years away from the issues you are dealing with, but I do understand it from the perspective of my grandparents, who are very, very frail now and in an "assisted living facility."

    To have that extended family to lean on is more precious than any gold, I think. Sure, they can be pains at times, and they do know all your awful secrets (I wish they'd burn some of those picture albums that have some of my "awkward decade/s" photos in them that they drag out way too often) so there's no way you can pretend to be sophisticated, but there's no one I'd trust more to have my back. Parents will always defend you and take your side, even when they're telling you what to do (and mine do that sometimes--but they're right most of the time, I have to confess to you if not them). I'll bet your daddy thinks the sun rises and sets on you, too. And as far as he is concerned, it does.

    I wish your dad health, love and many more years to watch his beautiful grandchildren grow.

    Is he still wearing that great hat with the "Jamaican National Plant" on it? Tee hee!

  7. Happy Birthday to dad!!!!! It is nice to know you are someone's child, huh?

  8. I want you to give him a hug for me.

    My Dad died at age 88 in March. How I wish I could turn back the clock to have one more hug, one more talk, listen to one more story of his time growing up in the 1920s just outside London -- where transportation was by horse-drawn carriage with a driver in top hat and gloves.

    What I miss most is my Dad's wisdom about life.

    Enjoy your hug!

  9. Happy Birthday, and many more.

    As an older, single mom (I'm almost 52 and my kids are 11, 9 & 7) my kids were destined to have older grandparents at the very best. My mom died 11 years ago when she was 70 (COPD), but knew I was in the process of adopting. Dad died 2 years ago (Alzhiemers). Still miss them, still wish they and my kids knew each other, really would like thier support, but glad I was able to be there for them.

  10. I understand you wanting to distance yourself from your dad in order to mentally prepare yourself for his passing, although I have not lost a parent, I can't help thinking you may regret it at some point and wish for just one more day with him.....
    And I have to say, WOW! Max was a really chubby baby, I love it!

  11. Happy birthday, to your dad! Wow, look at Max's chubbiness! Makes you wanna squeaze him!

  12. We all need "family" however we define them to help us through the hard spots. I wish your beautiful Daddy a very happy birthday. I wish you a community of family over all the coming years.

  13. This post really hit close to home today. My dad died 3 years ago, at the age of 92. Given his age, it may seem strange to hear that it was "unexpected," but it had been a normal day: he gassed up the car (yep, still driving), checked his email, called his sister, and died in his recliner watching TV. I had so many regrets that I had not spent much time with him in those last months. That was when Gabriel had his first major schizophrenic episode, and I was so depressed, and I just didn't visit my folks much, because I didn't want them to know how bad it was.

    Since my dad's death, I have spent so much more time with my mother and we are closer than we've ever been. Especially after her stroke 15 months ago, I've assumed more responsibility for her. Now she has had surgery, has had setbacks, and I fear the end may be coming within the next few months. It's so hard. I don't want to start saying goodbyes, because I don't want her to think I've lost hope. But yesterday she opened the door by saying she wants me to have her car, and we both said some of what we wanted to say.

    Savor the time you have with your dad. The thought of that day when he will be gone may be terrifying, but once he's gone, it's better to have all the memories of your time together than regrets for the time lost.

  14. Seriously, don't even utter the words--Charlie is SO BLESSED in the grandparent department and I feel so nice knowing that they're around.

  15. Happy (belated) Birthday to your Dad! I love the picture of him and Max!

  16. So very true.

    How you verbally nail my feelings on the head just leaves me dumbfounded.

    I, too, am distancing myself from my mother...preparing myself for the time when she is gone.

    Isn't that awful? It took a couple of years of me doing this for me finally to figure out what I was doing. Lots of questions, like "why am I always so busy" when she calls, or wants me to pick her up. Always so busy....busy avoiding.

    She has been there for me, for a difficult first time baby...she was there. So unselfishly...why do we do what we do? Self preservation? Short mindedness?

    Who knows...maybe it's just being overwhelmed at the care of a special need child. It all gets to be too much. sad thoughts, nonetheless. Because, it's easy to distance yourself when you are still "someone's child", but oneday I won't be. I'll be untethered. Who knows me better??? Those questions scare me.

    Happy Birthday to your dad!!!!


Thanks for sharing!

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