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Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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A Sunday Breakfast Treat

Sunday breakfast with the folksMy mother usually makes Sunday breakfast. But during the recent holiday, we decided to eat out. We're a small family — it’s the 3 of us and dad’s cane (that’s another blog).

The older I get, the older I see my father become. He shrivels before my eyes. Once robust, 6-foot-tall man with a personality full of zest, he now hovers and strains to catch a particle of breath. It is sad. But I still laugh – mostly at him because his quirkiness remains. Often, this is the best part.

Dad drives. I sit in the front so we can “bond more.” Mom relaxes in the back. On the way, mom runs an errand. What ensues is a typical day in dad’s smoking life: while he waits, he puffs. Getting him to smoke outside the car has been a coup for mom and I. His bad habit of “lighting up” while still in the driver’s seat, with the door open, remains an infrequent occurrence, but an annoying one, where the smoke redirects itself into the car. I huff. We already overcame the effects of his second-hand drinking, but to inhale that second-hand smoke prompts a cough out of us. Nevertheless, he complies and I am grateful.

We head to IHOP. Dad takes his cane and hobbles in. I have to remind myself constantly – as my mother has so well taught me – that he, she, they, come before any of their ailments (thus, Dad First, COPD Second). It is a daily challenge to find the balance. An adult child of an alcoholic, I have the inherent inclination to worry and to want to control the outcomes. Yet, the greatest lesson learned in self-help recovery is that our life scripts are already written. Letting go is not only liberating, it is the best way to care for me, for him, and for her.

After breakfast, dad smokes again. I don’t bother him about it anymore. In fact, when I got word that I would write this blog, I offered, “You know, this is the one time I’m actually going to say to you, “Dad, thanks for smoking.”

For once, something good has come of it.

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About the Author

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