My family and I were away for February vacation for a whole week. For many people, trips away provide a welcome opportunity to pause, change life’s rhythm (usually to slow it down), and put down the metaphorical glass of water. Meaning, even a not-very-heavy glass of water eventually is a back-breaker if you have to carry it forever.
Being a parent and a caregiver simultaneously increases the degree of difficulty on putting down the glass of water, but it can be done. For a short time. And not for a week.
Once you get up to a week, you start handing problems to the tomorrow version of yourself. Fans of the show Seinfeld might remember the episode where Seinfeld talks about “Tomorrow Jerry”. I use this construct a lot; at some point, you have to delegate your problems today to the tomorrow version of yourself. (Trust me, that sentence works.) Most days, I thank Yesterday Peter for some of his good choices or empathize with his prior plights enough to give him a pass for things he handed to me handle today.
A week with an elderly parent means that if you help parcel out medication, as I do, your parent is going to run out by the time you get back. This time I prepped a few days extra, but that ran out on Sunday. So after driving back from New Hampshire, I had a date in Framingham with my father’s prescription bottles. Today Peter was on the case. But then he got tired enough that the snowy, windy weather encouraged him to have hot chocolate instead and delegate the pill distribution to Tomorrow Peter.
Then Tomorrow Peter turned into Today Peter with a medication disbursement deadline. Today Peter was also faced with the just-announced merger of his company where he was among the few survivors, as well as prep for an upcoming Board presentation on the somewhat radical financing structure that he was recommending for his Temple. And this is how Today Peter found himself on multiple conference calls in his car, while driving to help his father in Framingham, while cursing Yesterday Peter and his poor planning. I pulled into a liquor store parking lot just off Route 9 for a few of these. At least I was able to stop off to pick up my father’s Vermouth and replenish the house beer supply for when I visit.
Today Peter arrived at his father’s apartment around 4pm with only a few minutes to take care of parceling out pills before the next wave of conference calls. My father sensed the time pressure, sensed my anxiety and knew that my time was limited. So he did the logical thing, which is to recommend that I have a drink with him.
At first I turned him down. Then I realized that I was crazy to turn him down. So we had a quick shot together. It was fantastic.
Now that I am looking back on how Yesterday Peter performed in that situation, I want to thank him. It became a great memory and a nice reminder that my father isn’t just someone who I am caring for — he is my father and sometimes knows what I need. I’m sure Tomorrow Peter will agree.