I Believe: You Can Learn at Ant Age

Donna - Pembroke, Kentucky
Entered on June 23, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: change, death, family
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I Believe: You Can Learn At Any Age

In 1999, my life took a complete turn. Early Wednesday morning, I received a phone call at work that my mom was very sick. By the time I arrived at the hospital, she had died from a massive heart attack at the age of 55. Since I was the only one at the hospital, I had the terrible task of telling my dad.

My mom and dad were married at a young age as was normal for 1959. My dad was the third child of thirteen children. He quit school in the fifth grade to help on the farm. Since he couldn’t read very well and preferred not to write anymore than he had to, Daddy was very dependent on Mom. She had always taken care of the bills and any type of business that came up. Mom did all the driving because Daddy had arthritis in his neck and can’t turn his head.

A few weeks before Mom died, she told me I was beneficiary of her life insurance and profit-sharing. She said that Daddy wouldn’t know what to do if anything happened to her, so she wanted me to take care of everything. I remember telling her that I didn’t want to talk about these things, so we talked about something else. Looking back, I wonder if some sixth sense was warning her.

The weeks following my mom’s death were tough. I took care of everything I could; just asking Daddy to sign when he had to. One day Daddy and I were talking about some bills when Daddy yelled at me. I was totally confused. I didn’t think I had said anything to upset him; then it dawned on me: Daddy was scared. The proverbial rug had been pulled from under his feet. Here he was a 63 year old man that couldn’t read or write very well, who had never had a checking account, never cooked a meal or grocery shopped, didn’t have and couldn’t get a driver’s license, on his own for the first time in his life.

My sister and I came up with a plan. We would take turns bringing Daddy meals and cleaning the house. We both live over 10 miles away, but we couldn’t think of any other way. Daddy came up with his own plan also. He decided that I would keep his checking account and pay his bills. It would be my responsibility to take him to the doctor. My sister would do the grocery shopping and take him to town if the need arose. So we took turns every other night, taking him something to eat, vacuuming or dusting and taking his clothes to our house to laundry.

Slowly, we developed a routine. After a few months, whenever I looked in the clothes hamper, it would be empty. I told my sister that I would do his laundry also and she told me that Daddy was doing it himself. I was shocked. He told her that he thought he could wash a few clothes if she would show him how to use the washer and dryer. Then there were no dirty dishes in the sink. As I was vacuuming one day, Daddy said,” If you will show me how to work that thing, I can do that”. I couldn’t believe it.

Daddy never had to do any of these things because they were done for him. This just goes to show, you’re never too old to learn. I made a special trip to Mom’s grave to tell her what Daddy had learned and to tell her that I am so proud of him