Mom And Dad Enjoy Their ‘Codependent Living’


I am heading up to Wisconsin to see my 89-year-old father, who still lives at home because we have the world’s best 89-year-old caregiver watching over him — namely, my mother.

Dad is fine. He wakes up for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Packers games. He had a quintuple bypass a few years back, so he could probably survive on his bajillion pills alone, but he doesn’t, because mom is a good cook.

He likes oatmeal for breakfast, which he eats with his special spoon. The spoon is special because its curvature exactly matches the curvature of his special bowl, enabling him to get to every drop of milk.

When he’s watching TV, it’s from his special chair — a recliner, of course. I don’t know what seniors did before the invention of the recliner. I suppose they had to rock and, rocking chairs being as hazardous as they are, they had to do this on the front porch. The recliner and the TV set were a match made in heaven for people who preferred to live indoors.

I was planning a trip up anyway, but now it’s an “official” trip because I have to check on them. Mom had a melanoma removed and dad, startled by waking up and not seeing her in the kitchen, tripped on a chair and broke one of his ribs.

Ordinarily, this type of accident is what precipitates an “assisted living” discussion, but they are firmly ensconced in what is best described as “codependent living.”

The codependent system works because of mom, who goes to the gym three times a week and spends the other four cranking out afghans, whipping through sudoku puzzles and keeping her church solvent. She’s feisty.

But mom is also tired. She tells us so every time any of us visit. We beg her to come live with us, but she wants to stay in Milwaukee.

She daydreams about how nice it would be to go where someone else does the cooking and cleaning. Dad is sympathetic and, to his credit, will tour these homes-away-from-home with her every once in a while. Inevitably, each is found lacking in that they are not his home. (Note: This is what happens when home-“makers” do a good job.)

We tell him he can bring his spoon, his bowl, his recliner and TV — but it falls on deaf ears. “Home” is so much more than the sum of its parts. And, even though it’s not the house in which we “kids” grew up, it is the house where mom and dad have lived for decades. Selfishly, we like going there. It smells right.

So, it looks like we’re as addicted to mom’s handiwork as dad is. We bring up the subject because it is the right thing to do.

Last time I dutifully mentioned moving, mom said, “Oh, I’ll just die here with your father on top of me.”


“Not that way! Get your mind out of the gutter!”

Having her chastise me like that warms my heart. It’s just another part of “home.”