I am new to this board and just need to let my feelings go. I will start at the begining.
In 2006 my dad was diagnosed with Alzeimers while he was in a hospital in South Africa for the removal of his bladder because of cancer. Early 2007, I decided to pack up and go as far away as possible and in August 2007, we landed in Australia. When we made the decision to go I was fully aware of the fact that I may never see him again.
Untill now it has been up and down. We suspect that the cancer has spread and he is in constant pain. Last night I phoned my mom and she told me that he asked her on Friday where she get money from for them to live. She awnsered that they are living on the pension money he gets every month because he worked on the mine many years, and he could not remember that. Later on Friday evening when she put him in bed, he very calmly asked her who she was. She replied that she was his wife of 45 years. He could not remember that he was married to her.
I knew that it would get to this stage but it made it all to real. Now I know f sure that when we eventually have the money to go and visit them, he would not know who we are, he will not remember me or my children. After almost 2 years, I am really starting to feel guilty about leaving them, about running away. I could not bear the thought of staying and watching as the big strong healthy person I knew as my dad, slowly dissapear in front of my eyes. He was my hero, my "idol". That is the main reason we left. Now my haert is in pieces because it is happening, he is dying. There is nothing anyone can do to change it. Yes I took the easy way out but my mom could not. She does have the support of my brother and 2 sisters althought I don't think that it is enough. For how long she will be able to keep it up I really don't know.
I thought it would be easy being so far away from it all but it is not. Why is it so hard to know you are loosing a loved one and nobody can do a thing? Why is it hard for me to know that someday soon I will have to tell my kids that they don't have a grandfather anymore. And that I took away the last chance for them to be with him while he was still well engough. How will I forgive myself for running away?
I joined this board just to have a place to let go of my emotions and hope and think that the people reading it might understand what I am feeling.
I do understand what you are feeling. I can tell you, whether you go away or stay the feelings are the same. There is a helplessness that overcomes you because there is nothing you can do that will truly make a difference. It is what it is and we do not have the power to make it different.
Both of my parents have dementia. At this point they both recognize me but I know the time is coming when they may not, especially Mom. I made a very different decision. I actually moved them closer to me so I can have more one on one involvement in their care. But I am here to tell you that the sense of helplessness and loss is still there. I can pamper them and be there with them, but I can't do anything to even slow down what is happening to them.
Loss only hurts when we love what we are losing. It is the price of love. Yet the joy we receive from love far outweighs the pain of loss. A wise person once told me not to grieve for what I had lost but to celebrate the fact that I had it as long as I did. That advice has made a huge difference in the way I look at loss. Yes, it is better to have love and lose it than to never have it at all. I have amazing parents. Yes, they are now in the grips of a horrible disease that is slowly taking them from me. But the disease can never take away the amazing parents that I once had. That is what I hold on to and celebrate... that I did have them.
Right now I am not watching my parents die. They are living as best they can..... and I am doing the best that I can. I am not giving up my life to sit and watch them because that is not what they would want me to do. You did what you needed to do for you. Each of us makes our own decisions that are best for us at the moment we make them. There is no reason to look back with guilt or regret. You just go forward from this moment in the knowledge that you did the best you could in the moment. History is in the past and carved in stone, not to be changed. Tomorrow is just a promise for each of us. There is only today and what we do with it. Your father would not want you feeling as you do tonight.
Each of us is dying. There are no guarentees that you will live to see your father's death. So make the most of each day you have. Second guessing yourself is not making the most of each day you have. So celebrate life, that of your father and your own. Listen to what he would say to you if he was there. Life is for living
Stop beating yourself up for what happened 2 years ago. You are where you are now, and it is clear that a trip to SA is very expensive. You did what you thought best at the time, and now you have regrets. This is so very normal in this life!
I have done the same. When I could not bear taking care of my Mom (with Alzheimer's) any longer, my brother and sister in law took her in and I moved from New York to Indiana. Soon afterwards she fell down the stairs at his house, had an operation to repair a broken hip, never learned to walk again and went to a nursing home. I was able to visit her there 3 or 4 times a year, but she had little recollection of me and no idea I had lived with her for 5 years. Now she has passed away.
I had some trouble with guilt. I felt, maybe if I had stayed with her she would not have fallen, etc. Bt all those 'shoulda woulda coulda' thoughts are basically useless.
I hope your Mom gets the help she needs. Even having someone come in for a few hours a day so she can go out and do something else would be a help.
Please stop in often and tell us how things are going. You can be your Mom's telephone support person .. that is already a major help.
I thank you both for your replies. It does make the load lighter when I can express my feelings to people who know exactly how I feel. I feel a bit better now and not so guilty. I know that my decision to move away was the right one for my children, to be able to give them a secure and safe future. We had to make hard decisions, but we are here now and like you said, I must move forward and not back. What is done is done and I can only use my faith in God to help them through, I can only pray for strenght for mom.
I will keep you updated on dads health and good luck to you to with your struglles.
Do come back often and keep us informed lady. Every aspect of this disease is difficult. As has been said before..... we make decisions in the moment with the best interest of everybody included. You did what you needed to do at the time and no look backs or do overs. Have faith in yourself that you did what was best.