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Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Double Gratitude: Thanksgiving and Dad's Birthday

Elizabeth Santeramo and her father wave goodbye. Next week is Thanksgiving and my father’s 84th birthday. Every few years he is lucky to have a double holiday.

Personally, I feel pressure-free since it’s 84. Next year I’ll have to plan something big, but I’ll think twice.  

Four years ago, the economy went south. I was out of work. But I had travel and hotel points so I planned the perfect birthday surprise for my father’s 80th: an Amtrak train trip to Washington, D.C.

A lover of trains, I knew it would be a fun experience. My mother and I managed to keep the surprise until we arrived at Penn Station, on the Jersey side. When he realized what was happening, he was both happy and grumpy. A frugal man, he is simple in his ways. Of course, the exceptions are food, T.V., and now, e-cigarettes.

It wasn’t an easy trip, however. I had to request a wheelchair, carry the cane, and help him here and there as well as manage carry-ons. At the time, my mother had vertigo so as the train sped off, I prayed.

Once in D.C., all was great. It was late November with crisp weather and fall scenery.

I redeemed points at The Willard Intercontinental – a very nice hotel to stay in as you reach a milestone and as you walk and sleep in the same space where presidents followed suit. It was all nice and dandy until nicotine commanded my father’s attention the way security detail sniffs out security threats. 

My father tested the boundaries, wanting to smoke. We were in a non-smoking room. I asked him nicely, “Dad, please smoke outside and bundle up.” He complied, with the first part.

Just before retiring, he wanted to smoke in the bathroom. My mother led the chorus with an emphatic “No!” I reminded him of “The Rules.” After a 10-minute carousel of ring-around-the-rosy, he finally said “I’m going outside.”

But he didn’t. He lit up somewhere in the hotel and caught the attention of housekeeping.

At check-out the next morning, I paid a $400 cleaning fee for dad’s smoking. So much for frugal ways. I was upset. My mother was more upset. We both expressed our disappointment. But he is my father.

With this last post, thank you for reading, for your support and important feedback. And Healthline, thanks for this blog. I got to write and dad got to quit.

Stay tuned…Ciao!

Follow Liz on Twitter: @lizunga

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About the Author

Elizabeth cares for her mother, a diabetic, and for her father, who suffers from COPD.