At 74, my father sustained a head injury that rendered him blind and created a host of neurological challenges.
The ordinary staircase to the second story of their home is a monumental daily challenge. He insists against moving the bedroom to the first floor.
The guide rope prevents him from falling down the uncarpeted, curved main staircase, while also leading to the safer back stairs.
As he was a former alcoholic, installing safety cameras around the house revealed surprising hidden stashes. The space above the dining room cabinet contained several gallons of vodka.
A rare, complete family photo from 1997 sits on a side table in a rarely-used formal living room.
My mother counts out doses of daily medication, night and day, for 7 days of the week. This is a constant task, never finished.
My parents sit on the front steps on an autumn evening, trying to guess the flight paths of the airplanes approaching the nearest airport.
Dinner at a favorite, no-frills Korean restaurant.
My mother is the oldest of seven siblings and has always assumed the care of her mother, my grandmother. With my father also needing her full-time assistance, she has double duty.
With limited sensation in his fingers, it is particularly difficult to use chopsticks, or even cut his own food with a fork and knife. My mother prepares each bite.
Role reversal. In Korean culture, the man of the house is the absolute authority, not to be questioned. With a sudden disability, my father is not willing to accept assistance from outside the nuclear family, including training for the visually impaired.
Medication time, just before bed.
My father is self conscious about the scar on the left side of his head from the surgery.
Car selection has become very important. So far, nothing has beat the Toyota Prius, with a back seat wide enough for my father to get in and out of on his own. Their other car, a sporty Mercedes, has gone unused since his accident.
My mother sorts and pays hospital bills late into the night after he has gone to sleep.
A welcome break in the afternoon. My father listens to audiobooks in his favorite recliner while my mother kicks up her feet to read history.
The town library provided an audiobook set specifically designed for the visually impaired. However, my father prefers to use an old-fashioned Discman and CDs.
Our visits allow much-needed relief from daily tasks such as driving, shopping, cooking, cleaning, conversation.
At the end of the day, the climb upstairs.