Monday, September 23, 2013
Dad went apple-picking the other day to a local orchard.
"Do you remember when we went?" I asked him. "We went with cousins Glenn and Ricky." [In the fall of sixth grade].
"Your mother and I took you also when you were in nursery school," he replied. "You and another little girl that you got along with. "But I don't know who it was."
I nodded but I sort of thought that he was mixing me up with one of the other sibs. I was hardly a social butterfly at that age. My company wasn't sought after. I was quiet and I kept to myself. I hope that whoever he'd taken apple-picking in nursery school had fun. Because it wasn't me.
sapphoq on life
Thursday, September 12, 2013
As my dad's Lewey Body Dementia continues its' relentless spiral progression, I feel like his "world" is shrinking. I have no other words to describe this feeling. Dad was a world-class traveler. He went to many places, had an International Driver's License, was familiar with many cultures and customs, knew how to do so many things. Last week, we took a trip to the cell phone store and the diner and the new Walmart's down the road. All three businesses were along the same highway, barely five miles from his present adult supervised living house. Four hours later, Dad was sated from a delicious lunch but also quite tired. He does not know what county he lives in-- although so far he does know the state-- nor his address.
Dad got here "too late." Too late for me to take him to all the places that I know and love. Too late to go hiking in the woods, to become familiar with the birds that visit my backyard, to even take a road trip to a scenic overlook he had taken me to years ago when I was a young child. Certainly too late to swim in the local lakes and creeks, to enjoy my half-grown cat retrieving his toy mouse, to go to a local pig roast or ride in the sidecar of a friend's motorcycle. Too late to discover old foundations and abandoned towns, to explore quaking bogs and deserted farmland, to take the happy well-behaved trained dog for a walk around the neighborhood. I had longed to do these things with Dad. He was not interested in visiting or was unable to. Working six days a week, raising a child in his old age, endeavoring to salvage a stormy marriage all conspired against our getting together "here." Instead, I visited "there."
When the dementia forced his marital death throes, Dad did make it "here" for a summer and an autumn but then went back to the wife who left him alone for Thanksgiving and divorced him shortly after. He made it "here" again when his [newly] ex-wife went off on vacations several times and he could no longer be trusted to live in the condo alone for even a week. [Yet the leased car remained in his possession. Go figure]. Even during the five months that Dad lived with us several years ago, it was already too late.
Dad was in no shape then to stroll with my dog around the neighborhood or even walk alone in my neighborhood. He managed a short walk along a paved bike path one day. He didn't understand my haphazard garden plots. He did sit on the deck with me once in awhile but was unable to focus on the birds at the feeders nearby.
When the ex-wife broached the subject of us looking after Dad so she could go on well-deserved vacations, I insisted that the leased car remain "there." We met at a half-way point and exchanged Dad and his suitcase between us. When Dad came up this last time "for good," he reluctantly moved from our home into adult supervised living. My guilt was tremendous. But I knew that I was not equipped to handle Dad, give him the routine he needed, or the safety he required.
Dad was able to reminisce. He could recall shared experiences from my childhood, he told stories about his own growing up, he recounted some of his travels. He is losing the ability to reminisce now. I noticed it the other day at the local diner. No, he didn't remember the incident I was talking about. The blank look clued me into the certain knowledge that he had no idea at all what I was talking about. Time has become immediate.
Sunday I celebrated thirty three years of continuous clean time free from the slavery of active drug [including the drug alcohol] addiction. For the first time in a very long time, I did not tell Dad about this particular anniversary. I knew that his world had shrunk. His world no longer includes the stuff of memories. He is living from moment to moment. "I want a hot dog" is something he is still able to tell the waitress. When asked by the waitress if he wants relish, he is able to respond with a negative. He cannot think about chopped onions on his own. I think for him, and again he indicates that he does not want them on his hot dog.
We talk about the weather. We talk about the new cell phone that he was forced to purchase because "we no longer make batteries" for his six year old cell phone. Dad is concerned that he won't be able to plug the charging cord into the new one. [The old cellie had a charging stand]. He says, "This store is too big. I don't want to shop here," when taken to the new Walmart. This is the Walmart that he begged to go to. It is too big. It is beyond him physically. The aisles stretch out into infinity. [No, he will not use the electric get around chair offered by the store]. The stores will have to be smaller now on the rare occasion that he agrees to leave the house. I can adjust. It's alright.
Dementias suck. They make the world smaller. They wreck havoc with memories and relationships and with life itself. I know enough to know that I am losing one person by degrees. Dad is losing everyone. Dad is losing everything. Dad is losing time and place. There is nothing I can do except to be there when he falls.
sapphoq on life