Ailing Father, Neglectful Stepmother, & a Confused Daughter
June 16, 2012 7:04 PM Subscribe
How do I address my father's illness, marital problems, and general malaise as a child who has long ago flown the coop and has no solid plans to return to her hometown?
posted by afabulousbeing to Human Relations (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It just so happens that we're on the cusp of Father's Day and so this may be somewhat topical, but it's also a concern/question that's been brewing in my mind for a long while now. Basically I live in a large city a few states over from my father, who lives in a rather sleepy town in a place I like to call Nowheresville and is currently contending with a number of chronic and likely life-threatening illnesses, including kidney failure, emphysema, and ongoing battles with pneumonia. He's also extremely underweight and is quite weak such that he barely goes out except to do grocery shopping..oh and also perform every single other errand that needs to be run! Which brings me to one of the issues at hand:
His wife offers him very little support. She suffers from some pains but otherwise is in pretty decent physical health and yet she refuses to drive, barely cleans the house, doesn't feed any of their shared pets, NEVER cooks (despite the fact that he desperately needs to put on weight), and also stays up all night on the computer and generally sleeps all day. Sufficed to say, she may not be in the healthiest mental state but meanwhile I am at a loss for what to do for them. I have my job and all my friends & connections in the city, and can't imagine uprooting myself & everything I know to go live in this dull place that's hours & hours away from that. And yet, I see my weakened father doing everything he can to please his wife while she seems to only pay him minimal attention. He's told me he feels lonely much of the time and has tried to talk her into spending more time with him, but it seems to no avail. I'd have to admit that he's not the most assertive type and my mother also had a knack for taking advantage of him on a regular basis, but all of it just makes me wonder what I should be doing in this situation. When I visit, I make it my business to spoil him and cook plenty of meals but it's certainly not enough. Also the only delivery food are pizza places and he doesn't seem to want meals-on-wheels so I don't know how to ensure he's eating enough.
Are there any suggestions for how to handle an ailing parent when you, their child, live quite far off and can't personally ensure they're being taken care of? Also, what if anything should I do to address their dysfunctional marriage? And if there aren't any concrete steps to be taken, what reassuring words should I tell my Dad at this point? He seems very down at this point on account of both his failing health and his marriage and I seem to be his main confidante. I'd like to help him face his mortality with strength and hope, but how is this done from afar?