Some years ago, when Dad had decided to retire and spend his days surfing the tv channels, I thought that was the worst decision he had made because Dad seemed so mentally active and still had a lot of energy to continue working at the law firm. However, Mum recounted that Dad made that decision shortly after having a bad fall while crossing the road. It seemed odd at that time to me, that Dad would make a major life-changing decision based on a reason that is as frivolous as having a fall while walking. It took me awhile to realize that that fall was the symptom of something more sinister - the onset of a silent stroke.
Stroke and high blood pressure runs through my family, so it wasn't a surprise to me that he'd suffer from it. However, what surprised me was the rapid rate at which Dad's legs gradually lost the strength to walk. His gait turned from a quick shuffle, almost like a dance, to one at glacial pace with him holding the wall, table, chair and anything he could grab onto to steady himself.
And today, Dad's condition obviously deteriorated with age and he needs far more assistance, particularly when he goes into momentary confusion from what I suspect is an onset of Alzheimer's. The critical point where we had decided to quickly hire a helper for Dad, was when he fell at home while gliding at glacial pace from table to wall a few weeks ago. Thank goodness, apart from a couple of bruises, Dad couldn't remember that he fell, just barely a couple of hours later. So that was our warning sign that the next time if he should fall again, the situation could be worse.
Funnily enough, while Dad sometimes don't remember what he had eaten for lunch, he could remember the promises I made to him to buy him a Japanese Teppanyaki meal which he thoroughly enjoys. He could even remember laughable moments with my dog Bailey, and his old jokes from possibly the pre-war days which he repeats to me quite frequently.
One day, he sat at the living room with his pajamas on, and it was only 4.15pm in the afternoon. So I asked him to read the time on the clock which was a fair distance from where he was sitting. Now this old clock had roman numbers and the hands on the clock were quite thin. From a distance, I wouldn't have been able to see what time it was. However Dad could tell me the time so I knew deep in my heart, he was still pretty lucid, just confused sometimes.
So with Dad getting weaker with age and Mom not coping very well looking after him on her own, we had decided to get Dad a nursing-trained helper.
Miraculously, as if the universe heard my prayers, we found Marites through Evelyn. Marites is Evelyn's cousin who incidentally had arrived in Singapore to work for a family barely 3 months ago but that didn't work out, hence she was looking for a new employer. And because Evelyn has worked for my family for the last 6 years, I knew I could trust her instincts in introducing Marites to Mom.
Marites joined the family today. I am so relieved that Dad can now be under constant care, and she will also help ease the pressure off Mom. Though Marites is very young, at 24, her pleasant disposition, her willingness to work hard and learn new things as well as her nursing qualifications will all go to helping bring some light back into Mom and Dad's home.
I used to think the cause of Dad's frustrations, isn't that he is partially disabled, but rather, he has to face that nagging fruit bat of a wife day in, and day out. And the cause of Mom's frustrations, isn't that Dad is partially disabled, but rather, she has to face his often cranky and stubborn disposition as well as his unreasonable demands. Perhaps, with Marites, they both have someone else they can each use as sounding board from time to time, and provide yet another much needed conversational partner at home.
I felt a lot more peace when I managed to find Dad a helper. At least, when Mom goes to the market, runs her errands or even just decide to have some "me" time, I can have peace of mind that Marites is taking good care of Dad.
We often take our helpers for granted. In running our home like the quintessential Chief Operations Officer, I sometimes forget how much peace of mind Evelyn had given me so that I could fully focus on my work and have a quality family life at the same time. Truly blessed.