The Wages of Daughterhood

I am so exhausted I can hardly think straight. I keep hoping my life will get easier, but so far that hasn’t happened, not even after my sister came to help with our father. I thought my sister would be a great help when he got out of the hospital after a recent bout of pneumonia and prostate infection, and she is. I also thought her being here would make it easier to meet my own needs, but what I didn’t take into consideration is that there would be another person’s needs to juggle, and this juggling act is already too complicated.

Thjugglingere is a chance my brother will accept my offer to drive him back to Colorado and thereby lessen the stress. There is a chance my father will get better temporarily and won’t need so much looking after. There is a chance I will get all the sleep I need and so be able to handle the immensity of my task with a bit more grace. There is a chance . . . oh, heck. There is a chance of a lot of things, I’m just too tired to list any more of them.

Dance classes remain my savior, both the dancing and the friendship, but despite my trying to keep those lessons sacrosanct, I can see (and foresee) the gradual encroachment into my private time.

Still, no matter what happens on a daily basis, the truth is that my father is 97 years old, very frail (more so because of his recent hospitalization), and does not have many years left. Probably not even a year. His doctor is going to monitor the situation for another month, and then maybe advise hospice, something that up until now he has refused to even discuss.

If my father does go on hospice, the wages of daughterhood would be almost over. (Paraphrasing a quote from The Florist’s Daughter by Patricia Hampl.)

It seems as if most of my life has been spent paying those wages, from taking care of younger siblings when I was young enough to need care myself, to helping when my mother was dying, to looking after my aged father.

On this blog, I spin dreams of epic walks, of living on the road, of being nomadic, but the truth is, I have no idea who I will be when I am no longer “daughter.” Maybe I will crave a place of my own. Maybe I will embrace spontaneity and uncertainty. Maybe I will arrange my life so I can take dance classes three or four days a week and be mobile the rest of the time.

Maybe I will just be.

Meantime, I’m still juggling as best as I can.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

13 Responses to “The Wages of Daughterhood”

  1. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    When my father got to the point where he couldn’t easily be looked after at home, my mother hired health care aids from a local agency. They came in various shifts and took care of multiple duties. I hope your brother does decide Colorado is a better place for him.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I hope my brother does decide to go, though I am really scared of being in a car with him for so many hours.

      For now, we have help from a local nurses group. The nurse comes a couple of times a week, and a nurses aid comes three times. As of now, that’s really all the help we need since he sleeps so much of the time.

      • Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

        I’m glad you have the nurse and the aids coming by to help. If one of your friends had always wanted to see Colorado, would having another person in the car on the trip with your brother make things better or make things worse?

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Keep at it Pat and don’t lose hope. We’re all here for you if you need us.

  3. 22pamela Says:

    Keep up the good work. It IS good work to take care of an aged parent/grandparent. I like to think of it as paying it forward. And your thoughts sound perfectly centered…you may not have much time left with him. As for the brother… I’d buy him a bus pass… A car ride sounds, in and of itself, a recipe for drama.

  4. 22pamela Says:

    ???- Is it your father, or the Dr who is opposed to hospice? As a nurse, not hospice, who has been on the receiving end of hospice nursing twice now, I will say it is much more for the family than for the loved one. If it is the Dr… Then demand it! And get him educated. Hospice patients sometimes live for a year or more!!! And the patient can go off and onto hospice as improvements occur. I’ll be praying for a positive outcome for all.

  5. ShirleyAnnHoward Says:

    Is there anything I can do to help?

  6. The Challenges of Looking After an Aged Parent | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] And so it continues, my paying the wages of daughterhood. […]

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: