Category: dayswithfather

Chasing Chickens

Chasing Chickens

I assisted my father as a chicken farmer up until I graduated from college, I started at the 4 or 5 helping out, raising chickens from egg and down to helping to prep them as food. I learned at an early age to understand and appreciate the food we grew and raised, raising them with care and admiration.

My favorite thing was visiting the hens early in the morning and after they laid their eggs, I loved their relaxed chatter. To this day that sound still makes me smile and is a comfort to hear. If only I could share an audio file.

Picture here was taken by me at age 16, my first family of two kinds of chicken I helped to hatch and hand raise.

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It’s good to remember where we come from, and how we’ve grown up  I can also see that photography has grown to be a passion of mine, to share imagery and stories.

 

Unspoken Love

The world is full of love that goes unspoken. It doesn’t mean that it is felt less deeply or that separation leaves a cleaner wound. Its beauty — and its pain — are in its silence. … Some of us are not blessed with revelations or confessions. Love cannot be spoken, only shown. Everything that makes the heart beat must be hushed.

This excerpt comes from a show that I put on in the evenings while I work on the computer, Call The Midwives.

The narrated passage made me cry, it hit home so deeply for me. The years I cared for my dad whilst I dealt with another devastation with my personal life, the love and pain, silent, from both sides, not by choice, but by situation. Just writing this right now brings tears to my eyes. I am grateful to have lived and experience the depth of unconditional love one can have for another, and the pain that can come with it from knowing the finite ending of it. It has made me who I am 

In Rememberance… We Heal. In Loss, We gain.

In remembering… a year has gone. Still healing from the 4 intense years, and then some. It’s surreal to become aware of the moment you realise that you must take on the role to be a parent to yourself, which I did as a kid at 7 years old, but also an adult, and to realise how far I’ve come. I had become my dad’s parent for the last four years of his life, celebrating the small joys, mourning the continual losses and felt the deep anguish, the entire experience left me the most vulnerable I’ve ever been (teamed with another huge life change in my personal life) and allowed me to grow in leaps and bounds. I learned just how deep unconditional love could possibly go, and just how deep the sense of anguish would feel like when I wished I could do more for him, and even for the others in his care residence, and having to accept that there was nothing more I could do, in my given capacity as a solo caregiver. I had to learn how to power process and stash things away, in order to keep going and taking decent care of myself, such as that it was ok to break down and cry. I also knew that I would somehow be forced to revisit these at a later time… when the time was right to complete the healing and growth process.

The first time my dad accepted my hand to help stabilise his balance when walking.
The first time my dad accepted my hand to help stabilise his balance when walking.

The revisiting came unexpected a couple of weeks ago, then subsided. Yesterday another huge wave crashed into me. I realised it wasn’t so much that I miss my father, in fact, I feel at peace that he didn’t have to suffer too long (part of the anguish), that it was long enough in his lifetime. I grieved for the hard times that I didn’t have the luxury to process,  times I felt his anguish and frustrations, and how my high level of empathy meant I would feel just too much sometimes. I grieved for the alines I had felt in that journey, how many friends who couldn’t empathise became apathetic, how I felt so hurt and lonely in those moments. I cry for remembering the unexpected people that stepped in, and the moment when a friend told me that it could be because I’ve been so strong, people rather not worry and just chose to believe “she’s fine.”

All of the emotions from then now pour out in bits, as I release them back to the earth. Grieving has been a process of finally acknowledging just how hard it was, all the feelings I felt and fought, now having the capacity and time to process it, and letting it go on a deeper level than just mentally. It made me realise that I had stopped writing after my father’s passing, and now feeling the need to write again… Thank you Vida, for your one time reminder and encouragement to me to keep writing a couple of years ago, when I stopped (dayswithfather.tumblr.com). It still stays with me now, when I start to get the inkling to do so. I have started to write again, to finally share just how hard it was, to have courage and strength to deal with one adversity in the face of another.

I won’t lie, being strong is hard and sometimes a very vulnerable place to be. I have days where I simplify feel tired of being strong. Being strong doesn’t mean that I feel less or am affected less. No, in fact, I feel more than the average being a high sensing person. Being strong doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate or need offers of support and people to take care of me, it means the world to me because that it means that they care and I feel supported. I didn’t receive the support = love from my parents growing up, it wasn’t in the cards, so this was to be one of my love languages, with words, and the other by doing and by touch, I can’t tell you how much it boosts me up when I receive genuine hugs when I’m not in a place to give one.

It's hard to watch someone you love suffer. I think dad has asthma now, struggling with his breathing :/ Hoping the doctor will make an official diagnose to help dad.
In the last couple months of his shortened life.
October 22, 2013
On this grey October day last year, I woke up in the early hours from bouts of insomnia, in a foreign land, feeling numb. The night before, after 10+ hours of traveling to reach my accommodations in Prague, I had checked the frenzy of notifications that burst from my phone once I had wifi connection, I received the surreal news. My dad had passed away. I had not been there, the guilt hit me hard. For the first time in 4 years, I had finally decided to take a long vacation (2 weeks), to getaway, to recharge. I had won yet another long and frustrating fight with the medical system, and finally had my father diagnosed correctly with congestive heart failure. It was bittersweet, as I felt relieved that he would get the treatment he needed to ease his suffering, but it also meant that his heart was failing amidst the dementia and Alzheimers. He could die anytime tomorrow, or two years, no warning. I had felt so overwhelmed with this realisation, and torn, do I cancel my holiday or stick with it? I had looked forward to visiting one of my closest friends in Czech Republic, who was also coping with an ailing father, but on top of being 8 months pregnant. I decided the life doesn’t wait, and that I had to seize the day and live life, especially since I had been running on empty by that point…

 

Back to this day last year, I had one and a half days of my holidays, the day was to re-explore the old town of Prague, and then London on a layover of 9 hours. I didn’t want it to go to waste, so pushed through the sense of numbness. It was like a dream, surreal, as I made my way out of the rental apartment, and started my journey. My mind was numb, as I feel today, unable to focus very well.

Looking over Old Town of Prague at dawn.
Looking over Old Town of Prague at dawn.
rental studio in Prague
The morning after having received the news of my dad’s passing, 4-5 hours of troubled sleep, I finally got up, wanting to capture the moment, melancholy numbness and stillness.
The enormity of that day was sinking in but in very slow motion. I got up early in the morning after a night of terrible sleep, and while looking out the window down at the Old Town of Prague, I realised, this is the first day without having any parents left, the day that life had changed permanently outside of my control. I no longer needed to take care of my father, my mission and responsibilities had disappeared into thin air. I felt lost. I remember the phrase my dad and I would say to each other in the moments where he could converse, 老樣子, he would reply after my asking him how he was doing, ‘same old’. I realised that today, it was no longer the ‘same old’.
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Dad in year one of living in a care home, having tried to trim his own hair, and having one of the good days, with some clarity… but it was also the day he asked about ending his life. Bittersweet moments.
Oddly I didn’t cry that day, and it wasn’t until I on the plane ride home the early next morning, in the middle of a movie that it came, the wave of grief hit me, like a tsunami. I was caught off guard, sitting in a window seat while other seat mates were asleep, I was trapped. I sobbed as silently as I could without choking from being unable to gasp for air in a manner that would have sounded loudly, but I couldn’t stop my body from spasming from trying to hold in all that was trying to escape. I felt bad for my row of neighbours, as I was sure that my movements would wake them, despite my efforts not to made noise.
After what seemed like eternity, it subsided somewhat, at least I could breathe now. I had managed to wake one of them, while the other slept through it all. I excuse myself trying not to have my tears drip all over them. I hid in the bathroom until the next wave subsided again, trying my best to look ok, and feeling more composed I made my way back to my seat. The two neighbours who disliked one another when we buckled in and showed it till mid-flight, now were looking at me with kind eyes in unison, guessing that the woman shared with the deep sleeping man her observations, sharing looks of compassion with one another and myself. I remembered how that somehow made me smile, a total Lucille Ball moment. They had not known what my story was, yet it had stopped their silliness and grumpiness, and the even somehow united them. The gentleman tried to make small talk to distract me, which was very kind, and he didn’t intrude, nor take it too long. I then found a movie that should have nothing to set me off or allow me to think, World War Z, and it had worked. I disliked it a few minutes in, then turned down the volume and eventually fell asleep, pondering on how I still don’t get the fascination with zombies.
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returning home from London
The rest was a blur, having made it home, having had a 20+ hour travel day with a long stopover in London and having forced myself to explore in town, feeling like that of a comatose zombie that needed hibernation for many days, and the moments of sheer frustration wanting to strangle people in the fight to deal with the mistakes the care home and funeral home made, then his immediate family and the complex situation of his young widow. It was traumatising, one last kick to remind me of what I would no longer have to deal with, one last fight for my father’s dignity, his rights, and mine…

 

Here I am a year later. I’ve built a home, not the material sense, but the symbol of it. I’ve taken risks in taking some of this year off, in career discovery and transitions, I’ve travelled solo (forcing myself to not worry about $) many a times to allow space and time into my life so that the healing process can take place. In the many losses of the last 5 years, I have gained so much. When I think about, I get emotional and leaky eyed. The experiences outside of my control have changed me forever, I have grown leaps and bounds, happiest years in my life despite the hardships and tears. With the anniversary, I now begin grieve over the childhood years of neglect and hardship, the right time has come for me to process that now and heal. My advice to everyone, do what makes you feel any one emotion or anything that makes you feel alive. It is when you feel alive, all senses firing – fear, joy, sadness, curiosity, and many more that you FEEL the happiest, and then actually are. Don’t pursue happiness, that which cannot be done. It comes from within, you have a choice, choose to be happy and live with full authenticity and integrity, choose to have a say in what you want your life to be like every day, choose to see the positives, instead of focused on the have nots and negativity. I wish you focus with happiness. Namaste.

Steps to Probate

It’s been nearly 4 months since my father’s death, and I’m in the midst of preparing to probate my father’s will. It’s been a stressful or worrisome process thus far, as the circumstances surrounding my father’s situation is unique to say the least. Even the lawyer stated this each time we’ve talked. I’m very glad to have found a lawyer that I feel trust and connected to, I think this is very important. So below is an account of what’s new as of today.

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Update and new thing learned: The Will Act is changing on April 1st of this year. The biggest change affects the beneficiaries under a will. Currently marriages supersede a will. Since father married after the last will was made, the marriage date dictates the spouse to be the main beneficiary, voiding the will, and my executrix standing, as he wanted. After April 1st, a marriage no longer supersede a will, and the will stands. Those of you marrying this year, post April 1st, may want to look further into it, particularly if you have a will and want to include your spouse.

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So after all the stress, the change in the Will Act won’t affect my father’s estate and the legal case after all. I still have a fight on my hands, but it’s looking more positive now, as I can sort of prove that it was not a true marriage of love, but rather of convenience, since they were apart for more than one year, before he had to move into a care home, thus illustrating that they weren’t being kept apart without choice.

Now the task on hand is to fight PG&T and the bank on how they could close down a joint account I held with my father, without notifying and stating the legal ramification of that. That was my father’s last try to make sure I would be the executor. Turns out the PG&T thinks it’s weird that banks do this, and that it’s wrong, but they do nothing to change it on both sides… service breakdown!

There needs to be better support for families or loved ones that need to lean on the PG&T services, while under extreme duress especially, on protecting the client and their family assets. ‪#‎BIBO‬

If any of you are going through needing or wanting to take care of an elderly parent and getting things organized as best can be. Feel free to mssg me. I’m happy to give some tips on what I was never told and have had to figure out and cope with on the go. Things I wish I had been told prior to my dad’s passing… Living wills, PG&T vs. Private Commitee, care advocacy for dementia/alzheimers parent, etc…

Love and Death

It has been a blurry 3 weeks, since the tail end of my trip away and leading up to my father’s funeral this Thursday.

Father’s body is now in the wait for cremation and soon his remains will reside on my home until his birthday come January, where my sister and I will scatter his ashes into the Pacific Ocean… The last few days leading up to the funeral and post, have been surreal to say the least.

I had hosted a casual funeral, a viewing without ceremony and formality. My father was almost always happy for company and very casual and laid back, so it was fitting. I had wanted it to be a cozy, loving, environment, for those who knew him to remember the man he was, and for those who didn’t – came out to support me – to feel comfortable in sharing this life experience with me and my family.

The funeral viewing went smoothly, minus one or two bizarre comments from family directed at me. Unfortunately these still stand out in my memory, as I process the feelings and thoughts that had resulted in what was said. Its inappropriateness shocked me, but then I realized post event that these people sadly have not let their ego guards down, and are still living in their fear and guilt driven worlds and the wrong attitude on what Love vs. Burdens mean. Little do they realize that I have all the family I need around me, I kept ones who were openly loving and grounded with me through my dad’s difficult journey with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Transient Ischemic Attacks (mini strokes), Atrial Fibrilations, and later diagnosed, congenital heart failure, which were the cause of swellings, weakness, and hard of breathing. Yes, sometimes I felt alone in the journey, from the supporting role, but I wasn’t because my dad was there… maybe not in spirit or the same physical self, but he was a being that still lived.

Being told “You are the one who loses”, to the one(s) who thought that, you are wrong. I gained, so much that I get emotional when I think about what I have gained through the last 4 years. I gained deeper unconditional love for my father and sister, it gave me strength to be there for them, even when I wasn’t feeling so strong. I gained deeper empathy and resolve to advocate for those in need, and coach those in need where I can. I’ve come to understand the meaning of life, the true depth of it, and gained a stronger mind in the process. I am more at peace than ever before, I am a better listener and communicator with those around me, more freedom speak from the heart and mind. I’m even better at letting people go, especially those who are no longer a fit, instead of wanting to help or please everyone.

Some people think that I am in mourning for the death of a parent, but in actuality, I’m grieving the four years of emotional hardships when I couldn’t afford the time to process and grieve then, I chose battles carefully and tried not to burn myself out. I had four years of slow grieving for the slow loss of my father, and now that the journey has ended, I’m am at peace with his death, it is a blessing, he is free. He has given the ultimate legacy to his family far and wide, everyone has reminded of his quiet and kind nature, as well as his humble and giving nature, all due to his death. This is the silver lining that death of a loved one brings, reminders to the living, a wake up call, to live your life out of love and authenticity.

Thank you to the friends who could come out, thank you for showing me love and support when I needed it greatly. It is a surreal experience made better by love and support, special thank you’s go out to those who went the extra mile and making sure I ate well and came to just keep me company, even when I wasn’t sure what I needed.

For those who are still in the journey with their parents or beginning it, do it out of love and not responsibility. For the love will permeate and be returned to you in unexpected ways.

Best Wishes,
Kai

Back from hiatus…

I’ve been on hiatus for a while. I found that I needed to take a break and thus withdrew for a while… dad seemed to have settled into the new care facility well and for the first time in the last couple of years, I felt less guilt in wanting to step away from it. It’s more to do with his physical health degenerating now, which I’ve found in some ways harder to process and deal with.

With dad having issues associated with congestive heart failure, it has been a bit easier for the nursing staff to understand and empathize with his difficulties in feeling well, and thus having great mood swings. His heart is getting weaker bit by bit… Hands and feet get colder often, he struggles with anything more than a short stroll, water retention is an issue for extremities as well. Due to these, he is weaker overall and less stable, and often has him just wanting to sit on the ground as his strength gives out…

Its been a week since Dad was put into a wheelchair for most parts of a day. No more phone calls to report an ‘unwitnessed fall’.

It feels odd, at times I feel a slight guilt, though I know it was the necessary step to take. Its not easy having the reaponsibility to sign away a parent’s right to be, the seemingly one last bit of their freedom. But he is safe and my moments of worries for his well being have been drastically reduced. It was upto 3-4 times a week. Never knowing when it would be the call that he’s hurt himself badly from a fall.

Thank you allowing me to share with you. It’s always cathartic for me to write here, once I can reach into my writing frame of mind… it’s an ebb and flow sort of thing. For those of you that follow along because you have chosen to take on the challenge of being there physically and mentally for your loved one, I hope all has been well, and that you are getting the support you need in this journey. Kai xo

The heart aches…

After many months, on and off, if not over a year in length, the challenge to get my dad’s medical conditions addressed has finally found some results. The recent tests has my father diagnosed with Congestive heart failure. Its a relief to know what he has been suffering with, and that he will be taken better care of and more appropriately. On the flip side I’m saddened by the outlook, another wave of grief has hit. It’s a bitter sweet discovery.

Thought via Path

A loving reminder: Happiness is a state of mind and being. Look within ans find what makes you smile 🙂 -Kai xo – Read on Path.

A two-man room

A two man room. Luckily my dad’s roommate doesn’t care to hang out in the room, where as my dad likes his privite time. #win-win #Alzheimers