I grew up hating my father for being overly strict. He easily gets mad over small things and when anyone of us answered back to explain our sides we would get spanking as punishment. Among the three siblings, i am the most vocal. Even if i knew i would get more spanking for reasoning out i still would reason out especially if i knew in my heart i am right. That’s how hard-headed i am. I hated him for treating us like that, i hated him for spanking me and in one of those times caused a broken tooth when my mouth was hit by the rod, i hated him for not letting me go on school fieldtrips with my classmates with a reason that is not clear and i don’t understand, i hated him for not letting me attend parties during my teenager days, i hated him for not letting me attend the high school graduation ball, i hated him for that time when he hit my mother and the list goes on. Over my growing up years i just consider him an image.. that i have a someone that i would call as my father. I never really understood his way of rearing us. He is not the “sweet” type because i cannot remember any instance when he hugged any of us. He is just like his father who was also a strict disciplinarian who resorted to spanking instead of understanding kids’ behavior. But inspite of it all, i love my father. He worked hard for the family and even did two jobs during harder times. I think his definition of love is by being strict and overprotective.
The only time that all of us became free was when we all have our own separate lives to live away from our parents’ home. This year he is turning 85. His dementia is getting worst and worst every single day. He often asks about the time, the date and the day multiple times everyday. He lives his day bullying and bullying more my mother and tormenting her with verbal abuse. He gets angry over very minor things and after quite sometime forgets what happened. It is always like that day in day out… so angry now seconds later he is smiling and in a good mood. We don’t know and not sure about what’s really going on inside his head.
Since my youngest sister is based abroad and my brother has gone to heaven, i am the only one who attends to their needs or do errands for them. I drive and go with them to the supermarket or when they need to go shopping at the mall, or to buy medicines. It is so difficult caring for him because he always gets angry. I told my mother that because of his unpredictable moods, those supposed to be joyous family moments always turn sour and sad and we all feel frustrated and dissappointed because we don’t know what to do anymore.
I have been telling my mother if only we could let him visit a doctor. Maybe there is a prescription that stops the degeneration of my father’s brain cells. I want him to stop bullying and verbal abusing my mother. I want my mother to live the remaining of her life free from stress. The problem is my father doesn’t want to go to the doctor. Forcing him will only end up with more fights between him and my mother. We are all so frustrated.
Looking at my father now, he is just a shell of his being. He used to be an intelligent and good looking and the best industrial arts teacher. He draws very well and so talented in calligraphy. I think i got those talents from him. Today, he is just empty. He is not the same strong man that i knew. He is old and weak. He is not aware now of what he is doing and saying. He forgets our names. He doesn’t know the days of the week. He even forgets that he had already eaten his meal and then asks again for food stressing that he still hasn’t eaten. The list goes on.
Most of the times my mother would just cry in one corner. She always calls me for comfort just to take off from her chest those frustrations and anger. I pity my old lady. I know how tiring it is to care for my father who has dementia. She doesn’t deserve to live a life in misery. At 83 years she should be living a good life and just be happy for the remainder of her life. We hired a helper to do the usual house chores for them but my father highly disapproved and the poor helper was thrown out of the house and was refused entry. So frustrating really! There came a time when we came to our turning point and that my sister and i had welcomed the idea to look for a good nursing home for my father just to free our mother from the daily bullying, verbal abuse and misery. But still my mother’s love for my father prevailed. Nursing home for him is not in her option.
Cliche as it may sound but i really have a strong ADMIRATION for my mother. Inspite of all the verbal abuses, threats, bullying, physical pain, emotional pain and frustrations that she gets from the old man she still cares and dedicates herself for him. I often told my mother that i don’t think i could do even an ounce of all the sacrifices she is doing now. Physically she maybe weak but behind the frailness of her body, my mother is a very strong woman.
photo of my mother at 22yrs young