Thursday, 4 December 2008
Son knows best?
People of my vintage might remember a popular American family comedy television series in the 1950s called Father Knows Best. It was a hit series in Australia. The wise father who triumphed at the end of each episode with his unfailing wisdom was Hollywood star Robert Young. In that series the parents were always wiser than their children. This was scarcely surprising since they were alert, enjoyed good health and had the advantage of experience over their still adolescent children.
I wonder how those children would have managed in today's world taking on responsibility for their aging parents?
I am in the situation where I have taken on virtual parenting responsibility for my widowed mother who has advanced Alzheimer's Disease. I took over her care full time when my father died six years ago following a short illness and until her condition became too advanced for her to safely remain at home. Now she resides in a nursing home.
A long time family friend rang me this week to enquire what gift he could purchase my mother for Christmas. He hasn't seen my mother since she entered the home and I suspect cannot visualise what little awareness she has now of her surroundings. In these circumstances I feel that any gift is really just a waste of money as she simply would not be interested nor take any notice of it.
When I give her a card for her birthday and read the inscription to her, she looks at it briefly without really seeing it and then takes no notice of it at all. It is gone from her mind within seconds of me showing it to her.
I felt bad telling him not to bother with a gift both from the point of view that he might feel that I am brushing him off and for denying my mother a gift. I tried to explain the situation as gently as I could hoping he might understand and promised I would pass on his and his family's best wishes to my mother.
I do this regularly anyway, even though my mother no longer knows who I am referring to when I tell her about friends from her past. Indeed she rarely remembers her own name let alone mine.
In these circumstances I sometimes wonder does son really know best?