For the 6 years before dad died I did a lot of driving. It started with visits every other month to check things were ok, increasing to every six weeks, then four weeks, later two weeks and finally every weekend.
It changed from doing laundry here and there, shopping and helping with odd bills. It ended with me doing full care, feeding, washing, changing, positioning. When Dad was dying he said the rosary on his fingers. When he could not do that anymore I lay next to him and did it for him.
I work full time in health care. When I was home I was visiting A&E with my husband and ensuring he was managing his health and day to day life at times I have to help with dressing, colour matching and fastenings. I had to find lost items and fix or replace broken ones. I had to remember appointments for everyone and ensure I took them and collect them or arrange something else if I couldn't. I had to organise medication. OK if it's one thing but when it's 5 or more for two or more people and the chemist doesn't have this in stock or there is a problem with that, it can be time consuming.
I had teens doing GCSE's and A levels, as well as having the usual teen anxt.
It was relentless, caring for those at home, caring for my parents at their home. It times I was so tired I just wanted to sit and sob. I feared that if I did I may not stop. I had amazing support from friends and work colleagues but it was a long journey I went on. I remember driving to my parents home increasingly anxious at what I would find, if this would be the last time I saw dad, if this would be a hospital visit weekend or not, if I would be able to manage whatever was the problem this time and if I would be able to limit the stress or distress to my parents and /or husband and children. Whatever happened my family were the priority and I would do whatever was necessary to keep them safe and well. I did have periods of time when I just wanted it to end. I wanted someone else to do it for a few days or a week. But there was no one who could or would. I felt I was very much on my own so I just got on with it.
Sleeping is for the weak anyway.
I remember crying driving all the way home worried what I would face on the time I was there, this could be the last time I saw Dad, Mum could become unwell, one of them could end up in hospital and I wouldn't be able to divide myself between them both. Then again my husband could have a crisis whilst I was gone. As I drove to my own home I would cry for the same reasons in reverse. Additionally I worried about the amount my children had to cope with emotionally and practically. I tried to spend time with them together and apart and inject fun into their lives but they had sadness which friends did not all relate to and responsibility again not understood by their peers. I felt constantly guilty. Friends were incredibly supportive and helped as much as they could. I am eternally grateful.
During such difficult times I did think about putting my parents in care, I thought of increasing their care to allow me more space, rest and time, but I grew up watching Dad care for his own elderly relatives and the sacrifices he made. I wanted him to know that I was willing to do the same for him now that he was in need. It's a very hard road to walk and nothing to do with piouty. I saw how content Dad was, he knew he was safe in his own home and because of that we could share the little family jokes and reminiscence we shared for that little while longer. And that is and forever will be priceless
I want to finish by saying that the decisions I made were made with my family, due to our circumstances. We are all individual and we make very difficult and different decisions depending on ourselves and our circumstances. Often at the end of life those decisions are impossible, there is no suitable solution, with hindsight we may have regret but we make impossible decisions with very little flexibility. Life is to be cherished to honour those who have gone before us, using the skills we have learnt from them. The bad, as much as the good.