Are we ready to become caregivers?
It was 16 years ago today … the morning of September 10 and the day I’d leave Milwaukee with my father.
I woke up early, showered and packed, read and sent a few emails before leaving for Mardig’s house. (Mardig is Martin in Armenian. For some reason, we called our father by his name.)
I sent an e-mail to an associate:
. . . imagine getting a man who’s lived in the same house for 45 years to move to Los Angeles on such short notice. I’ve had to, in this brief time (one week), find a local attorney, get a power of attorney, find and speak with my father’s doctor, get copies of my father’s medical records, take care of him day-to-day given the soon-to-be upheaval of his life . . . in short, I’ve managed to get by on 4 – 5 hours of sleep and take care of his affairs the rest of the time.
I imagined a sibling confrontation:
“What? You’re taking Mardig to California? WHO says?”
“Well-uh, Mardig finally said he’d come with me.”
“Oh he did, did he? Mardig, do you want to go to California?”
“Uhh, no. I have so much work to do around the house. Not really. At least, not yet.”
“Well, there you have it, then! Mardig doesn’t want to go! You know we have laws in Wisconsin against kidnapping!”
“Well-uh, yeah, that’s why we got a power of attorney.”
“You got what? You saw an attorney? Behind our backs?”
I didn’t want to see them now. I didn’t want to fight. I was tired and running on fumes of adrenaline.
What do I bring with us?
I raced around the house. He has so much stuff! His tools? There are too many! What about his stuff in the garage? Sigh! I came to Milwaukee with only carry-on luggage, so there was no room in my bag. How would I carry Mardig’s things?
At about 7:00 p.m., as the sun was setting in Milwaukee, my father and I boarded a plane for Los Angeles. This was his first commercial flight. Sitting by the window, Mardig couldn’t fathom the idea of flying six to seven miles above the ground. In fact, he didn’t believe he was flying in a plane.
Once we landed in Los Angeles, Mardig was happy to see David. He and David talked for an hour-and-a-half on the drive home. I closed my eyes and fell into a light sleep in the back seat of the car.
At 11:00 p.m. Pacific Time, after a six-hour trip (four-hour flight and two hours for the drive home), my father walked into our home and looked around. David had taken great care to prepare Mardig’s room and bathroom. He bought things Mardig needed: toiletries, more underwear than the few I had bought in Milwaukee, and food for healthy and balanced meals.
Mardig would have none of it. Disoriented, he insisted on going home. He promised to visit us the following day. For now, he needed to return home for the night.
What are we going to do?
Brenda Avadian, MA