Extended Family Advice

Ms Vick 76
Ms Vick 76 Member Posts: 8
edited May 2017 in Caregivers #1
My father was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer a year and a half ago. Previous to this diagnosis and increasingly more persistently afterward we encouraged and pleaded with him to move from Ohio where he lived alone to North Carolina with my husband and I. Understandably he resisted and wanted to live independently for as long as possible. His brother, my uncle, visited him for hours almost every night during this time and would often call me, teary, begging me to persuade him to move because he was "afraid" he would go to the house one night to find my father had died alone (a fear I also shared.) A month and a half ago my father's oncologist finally persuaded him to move with us - my uncle drove him and stayed for a few days. When my father was hospitalized for an inoperable bowel obstruction two weeks ago my uncle called and asked if he and my aunt should come down. I told him no because there was no need - my brother was coming into town and honestly I needed to focus on helping my dad, not hosting family in my already cramped house. The day after this conversation my uncle called to tell me he and my aunt were coming anyway because "they would never forgive themselves if they didn't come and something happened." So they came, they visited with my dad, they sat on my couch, ate my food, drank my wine and my aunt did a bang up job of annoying my father by constantly asking if he was in pain, how he was feeling and patting him on the head like a dog when she walked by him. After five days they informed me they were leaving but my aunt added that they would be back the following weekend. I told them not to come - that with everything going on with my dad it was just too much, that we needed time to sort it all out and get hospice in place, and that when we truly needed them I would let them know. They asked for updates which I have been giving but putting a bit of a positive shine on because I know what's coming. Today after getting their update my uncle responded "Please don't wait too long for us to see him - we will abide with your wishes. I know this is rough on you because it's rough on us." I understand his desire to be with my dad - it's his brother - I feel like a jerk for feeling this way but part of me just wants to have the time I didn't get with dad for the past year and a half (time my uncle DID have) just for my brother and I because I know it is fleeting and he is declining so rapidly. I guess I'm at a loss - should I ask dad if he wants them here again? Do I make a case for letting my brother and I have this time with him alone? I'm not sure what to do and I don't want to alienate anyone. Thoughts?


  • Catholic
    Catholic Member Posts: 86
    Yes.  Invite the uncle.  I

    Yes.  Invite the uncle.  I know its stressful for you.  I remember when my cousin was taking care of my uncle (her dad).  He was dying and I think everyone on our side of the family visited.  I remember bringing my kids and I only had 2 kids at the time and they ran around the house, their was no food or drink anywhere, and the house was a mess.

    Im older and wiser and I look back and realize that my cousin was at her wits-end taking care of her dad.  And we came and were expecting service and my cousin was pulling her hair out and in complete disarray.  Your relatives will appreciate all that you did in hindsight.  

  • Ladylacy
    Ladylacy Member Posts: 773 Member

    Ask your father what he wants.  When my husband was dying, I know he wished his siblings would come and visit but they didn't.  Always one excuse after another and it was only a 4 hour drive.  He wanted to see them and kept wanting to go back home and see them but it was impossible for him. 

     If your Uncle wants to come ask him politely to tell his wife to help out and to keep quiet and not annoy your father or just he come for a visit.  It is hard on you that I know from experience but you do have a right to speak up it is your father and your home.   Unless you have been thru it, no one understands what you are going thru, they can only image and many just don't understand.

    Wishing you and your family peace and comfort.

  • GingerMay
    GingerMay Member Posts: 134
    edited May 2017 #4

    As I read your post, I thought it was great that you knew where your boundaries were and communicated them to your uncle.  Just as great that your uncle abided by your wishes seemingly without resentment.  It seems like you have good communication with your family which I think is a very good thing during a difficult time.  

    The fact that you want to spend time with your dad is probably the result of a good father/daughter relationship.  However, I agree with others to ask your dad what he wants.  If he wants to see his brother which I get a feeling he will, then yes, absolutely invite your uncle and his wife.  Be as gracious as possible because it will be easier on your dad.  You'll probably feel better about it in the long term as well.   

    If they stay with you, perhaps making a mental note of things you think you will need help with while they are there will help.  It may also give you clarity on your own needs, and help communicate it to them without fuss.  "I'll need help with stocking groceries in the pantry, washing dishes each night, walking the dog each morning, etc."  I think most visitors hate to be a burden, but they just don't know.  Communicating the things that will make your life easier will help everyone.  You could even tell them when you invite them so they know up front.    

  • Ms Vick 76
    Ms Vick 76 Member Posts: 8

    Thanks all for your input - my father ended up declining rapidly after my initial post. I did ask my aunt and uncle to come back down and they were able to see dad before he passed away.


  • sherylcv13
    sherylcv13 Member Posts: 23
    So sorry for your loss.

    So sorry for your loss.