This one is so tough, John. However, and I am reminded of the 1970s spiritual leader Ram Dass who went home to care for his father. He’s now in his 80s, if still alive, and dealing with his own infirmity.
Several years ago, my best friend Jill’s 96-year old mother, who at that time was still living independently and perfectly well on her own, took a fall and whacked her head. She had been superbly diligent about avoiding polypharmacy, so her decline was strictly because of the age and the damage the concussion caused. She ended up in hospice. Jill sat vigil with her for nearly the entire year, putting her very active life on hold, and doing the immensely hard work of witnessing her mother’s transition.
It took many months. However her mom passed peacefully, and it was a powerful moment in which the torch was passed to the next generation. Hugely difficult, but full of grace, and power, and humility. In our parents’ passing, we face our own mortality, and the truth of the fullness of our adulthood when Mom and Dad are no longer there to provide context. We must be our own adults.
Sometimes you can improve things a great deal by both researching and challenging all the meds your dad (and you) are on. I’ve done this myself (I’m nearly 66) and that decision transformed my health. The aged in the West are badly mismanaged in this regard, with horrific cost to quality of life.
That said, he is facing his transition, and you are there with him. While at times both you and my friend Jill, and my friend Sonja who spent a year at her mother’s side until her passage this summer are deeply frustrated, impatient, angry, or even emotionally spent, there really is no greater work, no greater gift, than a child who witnesses, with love and care, the passing of a parent. I wish you and your father godspeed and the best of all journeys. You and I too will pass. We should be so fortunate as to have a Jill, or you, or Sonja at our sides. This is the very definition of grace.