So my dad’s turning 80 in less than two months.


That number—80—is kind of freaking me out a bit; it isn’t exactly young. Both of his parents died well before they turned 80, and while Papa isn’t the oldest of the 8 kids in his family, he’s the oldest one still living. And none made it to 80.

Maybe that’s why I’m kind of freaking out.

I wonder how he’s feeling about it.


I’m an awful daughter. I hate listening to him complain. And that’s all he ever really does.

He moved into a retirement community a couple years ago. It’s his own little apartment so he can come and go as he pleases but only old folk over 65 are allowed to occupy the apartments. Breakfast and dinner is provided every day in the community “restaurant”—all included in the cost of rent. And he had to sign over most of his savings to move in.

It’s an old folks home, let’s be real here: my dad lives in an old folks home and he hates it.

But he kind of has no choice. He’s been alone since he and my mom separated over 30 years ago. He never dated anyone so obviously he never remarried or anything. He’s a lonely old man.

And I never visit enough.

I hate that he has to be in this old folks home, yet I’m glad he’s there. Ideally he’d live with me and my little family in an in-law apartment. But we don’t live in a place that offers such a thing and frankly, I’m kind of glad about this.

I have a three year old that I have to take care of; I just can’t take care of an 80 year old, too.

I’m horrible. A horrible daughter.


After my parents’ split, both my siblings wanted nothing to do with Papa. I was the youngest and I only wanted one thing: for my family to just be a family. I spent every weekend with Papa that I could until my 20s. I answered all of his questions. I kept all of his secrets.

I now realize that he went a little crazy back then. I found out years after the fact that he actually committed himself into a hospital for a while. He was extremely depressed, he claims. I also learned that he had a gun on him during that time. And of course there was the private detective that was following my mom around for a while.

It didn’t matter what Papa did though, I couldn’t turn my back on him. Just like it didn’t matter that Mama turned into a drunk bar/man-hopping vixen.

I still can’t turn my back on them. Neither one of them.

And now Papa is turning 80 (Mama will be only 66).

I’ve got to do something for him. Something more than just wishing him a happy birthday. Something that involves people coming to celebrate. A party of sorts. But where? And how do I pay for it? And will it be enough?


18 thoughts on “Papa

  1. ahh a kindred bad daughter spirit. hello. i actually have a post in my drafts starting with, “i am the worst daughter.” guilt and obligation all mixed up but we’re good people, loyal daughters, and we’re not bad daughters, we do what we can and live our lives. have your dad over to spend the day with the family, make a cake, hang out. that’s all that’s really important.

  2. I think the best thing you can do for him is to visit or better yet take him on outings or just over to your house for a while. Time with your girl will no doubt bring him some cheer. My Dad is 77 and it really scares me to watch him age, but at the same time I frequently avoid him because he is so miserable. My kids make him smile though.

    • you’re absolutely right. I know he misses my Lovie and adores spending any moment he can with her… and I really DO try to visit often, but it’s so damn tiring. But you’re right, you’re right, you’re right!!

  3. It is never too late, I would visit him more. It will help you feel better about yourself. Also, I would get a cake and bring your family to celebrate his birthday. Good luck

  4. I totally understand the reluctance to visit, but the guilt over not doing more. And there is something about after the age of 70 that makes it very difficult to be around our parents. They just get so cranky and cantankerous. Good luck finding something to do that he’ll enjoy and that won’t drive you batty!

  5. I go through this with my mom right now. She’s in her 70’s and I hear all the time that I don’t call enough or visit her enough. She always says, “you never know if I could just fall down and die before you call me again.” I said back “yeah but if you’re dead, how can you answer the phone?” She didn’t think that was funny …
    Good luck figuring out what to do for his birthday!

  6. iasoupmama says:

    Oh, I do not envy anyone in your position. I am not looking forward to the days when my parents’ health declines. Mostly for selfish reasons — and that makes me ashamed even now…

  7. How about organizing a picnic in the park? Potluck so it’s not as much work for you. It’s hard to watch our parents age–no matter how simple or complicated the relationship is.

  8. It’s so hard! I always hated visiting my grandparents in the nursing home because it was creepy an depressing. And smelled. But at the same time, having them be with us would have been near impossible as well. I don’t look forward to this with my parents. I’m sure you’ll find the perfect thing for him1

  9. The idea of aging parents is so hard. I’m in a carefully cultivated state of denial about my own parents’ and IL’s aging. I have no idea what we’ll do with them… ::: Sigh ::: This was a really relatable post.

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