You Can Stay With Us, Dad

Father had dementia. It is not easy looking after him. I am at the height of my career and am often busy. So, I leave it to my younger brother to look after Dad. I wanted Dad to live with me, but it was not possible. I have a big family – 5 children – and there is no spare room for all of us in the family. Besides, Dad refused to move out of his house. He had sentimental value. That house is where he and my late mother stayed for more than two decades. When Mom died two years ago, his health took a decline. He could hardly remember things now. But he would remember things like how Mom would cook his favourite dish or would press his clothes and put them nicely in the cupboard, and even the music that they both enjoyed while she was alive.

So, Dad continues to live in his house with Dean, my younger brother. He is in his early 30s and I don’t really trust him. I think he is – if I may – a useless son. He is in and out of jobs and spends most of his time partying and drinking. Each time I visited Dad and Dean was home, we would quarrel. I expected him to be home to look after Dad. But he could not care or less. Thankfully, Dad is still strong and able to move around and get his meals from the coffee shop. But at times, Dad will call me and tell me that he couldn’t remember his way home. I would drive down to the coffee shop to take him home. Then, I would call Dean. He would not answer my call and cited “busy” each time I confronted him. Huh, busy! It’s not like he has a full-time job like me!

Then, one day, I got a call from Dad. He was pleading for help. I stopped my work meeting immediately and drove to Dad’s house. He was seated on the sofa with bruises on his face. I asked him what happened. He said he fell down. My first immediate reaction was to blame Dean for not being around in the house. I called him but his handphone was off. I decided to bring Dad to my house and stay with us for the next few days. I brought him to the clinic the day after. Luckily, the doctor who attended to him said there was nothing serious. But he seemed puzzled at Dad’s account of how he fell down. A typical fall like that, he said, would not cause the kind of bruises he was seeing.

After the trip to the clinic, I asked Dad to tell me the truth. What he told me made me angry. Dad said, he had forgotten to turn off the lights in the living room when he went to sleep that night. Dean would usually remind him to do that before he went out of the house in the evening. When Dean returned home the next morning, he was upset that the lights were on. He scolded Dad and said, “Do you know how much electricity was used? Who is paying it, old man?! Me!” Dad responded by saying, “Don’t be rude to your father! I raised you not to talk to me like that!” That was when Dean, according to Dad, lost his cool and started to assault him. Dean slapped my Dad’s face a few times until Dad fell down and hit his arms on the dining table. The bruises on his face were the result of the slaps. But he had also suffered bruises on his arms because of the fall. Dean felt remorseful after that, checked that Dad did not suffer a serious injury, and left the house in a hurry. That was when Dad called me.

I am angry with Dean. I had not seen or heard from him ever since that day. “You stay with us now, Dad,” I told my father. He nodded. I think he was afraid to return to his house in case Dean hurts him again. I went back to Dad’s house to pack his clothes and bring them over. “Where am I going to sleep?” Dad asked. “Don’t worry, Dad,” I said. “You can sleep with Lewis and Joe. They’re still young. I’ll get a double-decker bed and put a single bed for you in the room. Squeezy, but it’s fine.” Lewis and Joe are my two youngest sons. They were more than happy to have their grandfather sleep in the room with them. My wife, Maria, is also supportive. But we must learn how to deal with Dad’s dementia. But as a son, it’s my duty now to take care of Dad in his old age. Especially since I can no longer depend on Dean, my own brother. And I wouldn’t trust him ever again.

Yours sincerely,

James

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