Sunday, March 25, 2012


I worry about my dad. There's nothing I can do to help him, and  he pretty much refuses to help himself, but I still worry. Due to a series of poor choices, some of which I know about, most of which I don't, he's in a deep financial crisis. And in his mind, the only way out is to get a job.
But he's nearly 80, is an expert in a field which is a younger man's game, and has no computer skills. His life experience counts for nothing, at least to the aforementioned younger men, so he is unemployable.
He will not take suggestions or assistance from anyone. He will not seek out the free computer classes geared toward seniors. He will not volunteer for anyone. He will not stop his wife from freely and frequently spending what little money they have. Pride is his m.o. He has always provided for his family, and he will not let his family provide for him.
He is convinced that whenever an employer receives his (impressive) resume, as soon as they discover his age, he is cast aside. In his opinion, that is the only thing keeping him unemployed. And while I'm willing to concede that age most definitely is a part of the problem, I can't believe it's the only thing. But maybe I'm wrong.
Where I live, I don't see a lot of seniors working full time. Or maybe I just don't notice. My little town has a large population of 65+ folks, but when I look around, I guess I see them more socially, and not professionally. Our Senior Center provides lots of activities, and there are many community-organized trips, classes, adventures. But my dad is not a social guy. He has no hobbies. Working construction was his life. Decades ago, he moved away from his construction buddies to start a new life in Florida, and he basically has no friends. He has no one to hang out with, no regular pals, and he would not be caught dead anywhere near a Senior Center. He doesn't see himself as a senior, in the same way I don't see myself as middle-aged. But we are. We are.
I am going to be the exact same kind of senior citizen.  I have friends around me, and if I don't manage to piss off my children, I might be lucky enough to have them still around. But I'm not into daily coffee with a group of lady friends. I like to be alone. I like my work. I don't know how to give helpful advice to my dad because I can only see that I'm going to turn out just like him, and I don't know how to stop that train.
So, what to do? How to help? What to say? Our weekly phone conversations are painful, maudlin. After a few minutes of enjoying the recent escapades of my children, his voice drops as he says, once again, "I can't get work. I have nothing to do." I can FEEL the life draining out of him. He's bored, he's scared, and he's alone. Yes, he's married, but I don't want to talk about that. It certainly doesn't fill his long days. And since he feels useless as a provider, I imagine he feels useless as a husband.I have no idea how to help him, or if it's even my place to help. I can't MAKE him take any of my suggestions. I know I wouldn't want to, if I were in his shoes, because I'm just as stubborn.
Worrying is what I can do. Cry is what I can do. Otherwise, I'm helpless.

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