Thursday, January 29, 2015

Back Home

For the past two weeks I've been living with my ailing father back at the ol' family homestead in suburban Roseville, MN. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer around Christmas and started chemotherapy two weeks ago. I lost my mother to ovarian cancer back in 2001.

Aside from a very short-lived foray into babysitting when I was about 13, this is the first time I've ever acted as caregiver to another human. I've barely even ever taken care of a pet, but I think I'm doing a pretty good job.

Moving back into the house I grew up in feels familiar in so many ways, but under these circumstances it's certainly not a comforting type of familiarity -- more like bumping into an ex-girlfriend while making that god-forsaken once a year shopping trip to the mall.

Regarding my old neighborhood, this experience has reinforced my feelings about living in the suburbs. I try to go out for a walk and there are few options of interest. When I am out walking oftentimes the sidewalk simply comes to an end in the middle of a block. Bicycles are so rare that I've mostly kept mine in the garage because sometimes it just doesn't pay to go too hard against the grain. I do not belong here anymore.

These things just make the whole situation more challenging for me as there feels to be no place of comfort. I've watched more TV in the past 2 weeks than in the prior 2 years and have been unsuccessful at avoiding junk food. I'm falling back into habits from high school.

But of course the flip side of this is probably akin to what many of you parents understand -- it feels wonderful to be of service to a loved one, even when it's not fun. For the first time in my life I'm a vital cog in the life of another, a provider of critical support.

This will be a time of growth for me as I experience new challenges and broaden my understanding of the human condition, a condition I'm slowly learning to see more clearly.


Jay said...

Sorry to hear about your dad, Kirk. Glad you're spending time with him.

Kirk Ahlberg said...

Thanks, Jay.