Roy lost his wife Lynn a couple of weeks ago to an extended illness. It was one of those occasions that somehow came and went without me finding out until it was too late.
I saw Roy a few short days after the funeral and profusely apologized for not being there to offer my support during this trying time. Roy said he understood and we shook hands and went about our business.
Roy has been a friend of my dad’s for many years. Dad has many friends but unfortunately cannot communicate that to anyone because of his own disease.
But Roy has been to see my dad and asks me about him on a regular basis.
In a situation like ours, I think many people don’t know what to say so they say nothing at all.
As the oldest child, it becomes your lot in life to help make decisions when decision-making capabilities are out of your dad’s reach anymore.
Yes, Mom is alive and healthy, but many decisions that have to be made for someone with Alzheimer’s are tough to make.
Many decisions are critical. And as the child, you must become the adult and make the decisions for the betterment of everyone’s interest.
I have had several people tell me what I need to do and how I need to feel. I have had people tell me that I am making the wrong decisions for my family. I guess it is easy for some people to rule when they have never experienced this type of family issue.
I have even had some be mean with their comments because they feel my Dad would have been better off at home as opposed to a nursing home. And I feel sure that my Mom would have tried doing that if it was thought it would have been best for him.
But I didn’t think it was best for him because he is in a place that cares for him around the clock.
His being there gives my Mom a chance to go home at night and take a breath from the hand that life has dealt her.
So I told her very plainly that it was my opinion that we place Dad in the nursing home not only for his benefit, but also for hers.
I take full responsibility for that decision and that is the way it should be. I told her several times that if people tell her it was the wrong thing to do, to just tell them that I made that decision.
She sits with him many hours a day. She shouldn’t have to shoulder those decisions. That is my job.
I was at the golf course not too many months ago, where I can often be found on the weekends. Roy Cain was there and several people were asking about Dad and some even offering their one opinion or another.
As I got up to walk away, Roy followed me and pulled me aside. He looked at me with tears in his eyes.
He told me about having to make decisions, like the ones I have to make, in his own life.
He told me how difficult it was to make life decisions in his family and he understood what a difficult chore this was for me or anyone in my position.
Roy told me to ignore the mean comments and appreciate the nice ones. He told me that the decisions I made would always stay with me.
But he also told me to just do the best I can and things will work out for the best. He offered no particular advice.
He reminded me that life is full of difficult decisions and if I make those decisions based on what I know is best; things will work out in the end.
Roy told me exactly what I believe my Dad would say to me if he were able.
I felt honored that someone took me aside and spoke to me like they would their own son.
It may have been a small thing to Roy. But it was a huge thing for me.
So Roy, let me publicly thank you for filling the father role for me that day. Dad and I thank you!
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.