The Dementia Diary

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The Non – Prodigal Son

on March 11, 2012
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The parable of The Prodigal Son never really made sense to me.  A man has two sons.  One son take his inheritance, goes away, has a big old spend up, wastes all the money, comes home and is welcomed with love, open arms and a huge party.  The son that dutifully cares for his father, his fathers business and money doesn’t get the party or the big welcome back; he gets told I love you the same and I don’t understand why you’re upset.


On Friday No. 3 son took F i L to the doctor to get the results of his recent knee x-ray.  Husband and I were relieved and a little grateful as this meant we wouldn’t have to visit that day.  If I’m completely honest, when I was giving diretions to the doctors surgery it did occur to me that F i L may have written the wrong surgery branch on his calendar.  He had lost the appointment letter and the obvious thing to do (if I or husband were taking him) would be to ring the surgery to check where he should be going but as No.1 Son never and No. 3 son rarely helps I didn’t feel inclined to help them by making the call.  If they don’t know their own father well enough to do this why should I be the one to eduacate them?

We also needed to arrange for the district nurse to visit F i L at home to take his blood for his Warfarin medication check. Currently I pay someone to cover my work (I’m self-employed) while I take him for his blood test, or husband has to book annual leave.  Husband discussed this with No.3 Son, and No.3 son was going to talk to the surgery about this while he was there.

Shortly after the appointment time I started receiving text messages that F i L  and No. 3 Son had gone to the wrong surgery.  Later that morning I had a 30 minute gap between appointments so I went to F i L’s house to find out what had happened.  They had got to the right place eventually, picked up a prescription (which F i L won’t take) but hadn’t arranged the blood tests.

I called the surgery to sort this out but, as we are still waiting for No.1 son to get the Power of Attorney sorted, his one and only task in this share out of family responsibilities (it has only been 6 months!), they wouldn’t speak to me.  This is why we had asked No.3 son to do it while he was there WITH F i L.  So as it stood I was still going to have to pay someone to cover me while I took him next week for the blood test.  I was not best pleased by this and F i L was now in a panic not knowing what was happening regarding the impending test.

None of this really relates to the non-prodigal son title, except for demonstrating how feckless two of the three sons are.  The next day husband and I went to visit.  I needed to refill F i L’s medication box (one of those dosing planner things), and I wanted to check his fridge and shopping (he keeps eating out of date food and buying more and more cat food).

When we walked in we got the usual “Thank heavens you’re here” greeting.  He then started telling us how badly off No. 3 Son is.  We’ve heard this many times before and he’s in better shape than us! On husband’s previous visit, on Thursday, F i L had been complaining that his kitchen light wasn’t working properly (one of the bulbs in the light fitting kept going out and coming back on).   We’ve had it looked at professionally and nothing can be found to cause this.  There’s probably just a slightly loose wire somewhere but he doesn’t remember this being done TWICE before.

F i L was telling me that the light fitting was dangerous.  I was saying it’s not.  F i L was saying he want’s a professional to look at it.  I said they have.  He was getting really belligerent, rude and telling me I was being stupid.  Husband had heard enough and walked out.  It’s hard enough dealing with someone with no short term memory, but when they start having a go at you and calling you names, and when you are the only people who help them it’s a really bitter pill to swallow.  Husband found that on this occasion he couldn’t swallow it even though I was on the receiving end.

F i L couldn’t believe he had left, and left me there to walk home.  Having done a similar thing myself about two months ago I could believe it.  He didn’t understand what had caused it, so I told him.

I didn’t hold my (metaphorical) punches.  I told him he has three sons, two of whom do nothing (or next to) for him.  One son sees him every day, arranges all of his day to day stuff.  That son’s wife has been there with him virtually every day, helping him for the past 540 days.  And what do we get when we walk through the door?

I told him that we get told how awful life is for No. 3 son.  Things are worse for us.  I’m self employed because I couldn’t get paid employment after being made redundant in the middle of a reccession.  We had to sell one of our cars months ago because we couldn’t afford to run it.  We scrape enough money together to pay the mortgage and buy food each month.  That’s all.  No. 3 son and his wife both work, do little to help and so what if they may need to sell their car now, the one we have needs work to the tune of £3,500 and if I don’t have a car I don’t earn!

I told him No. 1 Son doesn’t call, doesn’t visit.  Yet we hear how terrible his life is because he’s so busy.  Husband and I work full time and look out for F i L.  The other sons are ‘too busy’ because they do things with their children at the weekend.  Our kids get ‘abandoned’ daily while we see to F i L including at the weekend.  We don’t have the luxury of being too busy.  Do we get sympathy for our ‘terrible’ busy life.  NO.  He expects this of us and so do they.  I told him that he allows his two other sons to get away with this behaviour.  That he has higher expectations of husband whilst he expects nothing of the other two.  That he criticises us daily and is rude to us although we are the only ones who look after him.

Then I went home.

This morning he phoned.  He wanted to speak to husband.  He knew husband had left in a hurry but couldn’t work out why.  He was worried about it.  He had forgotten everything we had spoken about and everything I had told him last night about why husband was upset. So I told him again and he thanked me.  He appreciated the honesty and told me that   M i L had to tell him when he was out of line when she was alive.  He still wants to talk to husband about it but I’ve said he can’t, not for a few days anyway.  Maybe by then he will have forgotten again and we can move on.

And the non-prodigal son?  Obviously husband is that and I am not being literal in the meaning of the word prodigal.I’m referring to the bible story. Two sons don’t bother with him and the grunt work gets left to us.  They laugh and joke about it.  They find it funny.  The three sons aren’t equal by a long shot.  Husband is worth a dozen of either of them and as the only daughter in law who has lifted a finger so am I.  I have dealt with aspects of his care that even his wife or mother would blanch at , but I am driven to tears when I think that all three sons will financially benefit from his death equally but two of them ignore his needs in life.


3 responses to “The Non – Prodigal Son

  1. I feel like you are in the same boat as I am. I have one sister and one brother and neither lifts a hand for dad while I do it all, or arrange to pay others to do it. Every family has one responsible person and many who loaf. I don’t know why, but I see the same situation over and over. I try to remind myself that I chooses to do this because I love my dad, and to forget about my siblings. Like your family, they will inherit equally after doing no work.

    Good luck with your situation. I think blogging helps us build a network and share problems and relieve the stress. Take care of yourself. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Wow, you do have your hands full. Bless you. By the way, I don’t understand the parable of the Prodigal Son either. Funny because my daughter and I were just talking about that parable a few days ago. She doesn’t get it either.

  3. […] another site « The Non – Prodigal Son Mar […]

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