I haven’t blogged in forever. It was just too hard to, I don’t know, share. To be honest, I didn’t want the photos of Mom to fall off the last post to my blog. But, I turn now to a tribute to my father. A man suffering greatly from the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s.
He was the kindest man. Honest to a fault. Strong in his faith. A wicked, dry sense of humor. He gave of his time and his money–quietly, behind the scenes — because he believed it was the right thing to do. He was brilliant–and down to earth.
Now, he’s…lost. He no longer has Mom as his touchstone to keep him grounded. He’s often agitated, and I fear some of the workers at his nursing home just see him as the crotchety old patient, not the man behind the disease.
But, Dad, we still see you. The man who is still there, somewhere, hidden behind the cruelty of fate. We visit and bring your favorite donuts. Though I’m sure ten seconds after we left you yesterday, you had no idea we had been there with you.
But, I love you fiercely and forever, Dad. You are not this disease. I will drive in every week to visit, and talk to you about your life and family. We’ll look at photos and take walks. I’ll bribe you to eat with your favorite foods. I’ll walk down those damn halls of the nursing home, week and after week. The halls that make me weak in the knees as I enter them each visit, ranting to the universe about the unfairness that is your life now.
And I thank God for my cousin. Chris the Girl. The daily constant in Dad’s life. The caretaker who goes to visit Dad every day and keeps him connected to life as much as possible. I don’t know what I would do without her being there when I can’t.
It’s been a long, hard battle to this point. Sometimes my sister and I have to play “tag, you’re it” and take a break. It is stressful. Impossible. Yet, no one has a choice. Not Dad. Not us.
But this is how I think of him, still. Laughing. Cracking jokes.
Or teasing my mother.
That is my father. The real man. The man behind the Alzheimer’s mask.