Dear Home Care? in Honolulu,
The great thing about Alzheimer’s is that your father is not going to know who you are, where he is, or how he got there. Really, you could do just about anything—even put him in a tutu and walk him on a leash around the neighborhood—and he would not know the difference. This is obviously not about what your father thinks or feels, because at this point such things are almost completely irrelevant.
Even though you may view sending him to a home as a punishment, it is actually the nice, caring thing to do. It is small-minded and stupid to think that keeping a sick person in your house proves to you or the world that you love them, respect them, or have forgiven them. He is sick and needs special care—care you are probably unable and maybe more than a bit unwilling to provide. Also consider that in many places it is illegal to neglect or abuse the elderly, so you will both be safer if you send him away and let the nurses worry about such trifles. The absolute last thing you want is him wandering out the door never to return and a relative pressing charges against you—that is a double whammy you can easily avoid by putting him in a box and shipping him off to a nursing home. What is best for him is to get specialized care. Whether you decide to go visit him is for your conscience and your wife to battle out.
Let this be a cautionary tale to all parents: You will get old and feeble and maybe lose your mind, so be nice to your children while you can. In the end, they may be the only thing standing in the way of you taking a trip to the mall without your pants in the middle of January.
SKITTISH OVER SKIN
My daughter is getting married this summer, and we just met the husband last night. One little detail she left out was that her husband-to-be is a black man. I am not a racist—well, I like to think I am not a racist. I always thought she would marry someone like me, color included. Isn’t that what daughters are supposed to do—marry someone like daddy? I am upset but I know I should not be. What can I do?
—Desperate Daddy in Durham
Dear Desperate Daddy in Durham,
I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt about being a racist and assume you were simply surprised by the fact that a black man walked through your door only because your daughter did not think it necessary to give you any warning. So either you are obviously a racist and she is the world’s dumbest person—in which case I suggest you take her out back of the barn now and shoot her because she has absolutely no business reproducing—or she did not think you were going to have a problem with it.
You probably would have been surprised by any man that walked through your door and wasn’t your mirror image—an Italian Catholic, a Russian Jew, or a turbaned Indian—so stop worrying about being a racist and get to know the man. I would lay odds that once you get to know him you will find out he is just like you in many ways, defects included.
In the event that I am wrong and you are sincerely upset because the man is black, then I suggest you start thinking about the real problems that can come with marriage and life from this point on that could actually hurt your daughter, who is your flesh and blood: cheating, lying, stealing, abuse, child abduction, sickness, infertility, crippling accidents, or a child’s death, just to name a few. Stop worrying about something so inane as skin color! One of the greatest signs of intelligence is the ability to adjust, so are you smart or simply stupid, stupid, stupid?
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