As the stream of hot water cascades down my body I begin to relax. The tension that I have been carrying around in my muscles begins to ease. I stand there with my back against the flow of water. The heat feels amazing and for the first time I cry. It rains in my shower. I am so sad that I can’t share my sorrow. I feel like I have no one to talk to. I have anger I don’t know what to do with. I feel defeated and small. Even when life seems to be moving along a set path the wind changes course and the path moves. Its subtlety goes unnoticed until it blindsides me. I try to pay attention as closely as I can. I am constantly making lists. Dad’s needs, hubster’s needs, my needs. What both households are out of. A list of bills to be paid, when to pay these bills when I can, if I can. The last eight years have not been an easy ride.
Dad’s dementia has pretty much been of a certain level. He is pleasantly confused. More often than not he is happy and a tad confused. He doesn’t know what day of the week it is. He doesn’t remember how my Mom or my kid sister died. My Dad thinks that they are out somewhere having lunch. Who am I to correct him? Ignorant bliss. In my humble opinion, this is the ONE blessing of dementia. On the other hand, he forgets my birthday, holidays, anything of importance. His reality is unlike those around him. His world is only about his wants, his needs, his anger. Dad gets angry. It doesn’t happen often. Usually it is over trivial things that have importance only to him.
I couldn’t find him. I called his apartment that morning on schedule. By 11:15 I was beginning to worry. I called the neighbor. The horror thoughts raced through my mind. Maybe he fell and couldn’t get up; maybe he felt faint and then passed out; maybe he had wandered off: maybe he died. After the fourth ring the neighbor picked up. She scarcely got out a hello before I blurted out, “have you seen my Dad today?” Yes she had. Right before my every morning call he had an episode of weakness and a sudden feeling that he was going to pass out so my Dad( king of can’t remember shit )dialed 911 unassisted. She had tried to get over to his apartment before the first responders came but they beat her to his door. She tried to reach me but my cell went straight to voicemail. After the third try she left a voice message of her own for me to call her ASAP.
The paramedics took him to the hospital ER and thus my life, his life changed forever. He was admitted with the possibility of a mild case of pneumonia. In all likelihood my Dad would be just fine after a few days of meds. He would once again return home to live in harmony with his altered reality. That, however; is not what happened.
My mother died June 11, 2007. I started taking care of my Dad the day of her funeral. Maybe that’s the day his soul gave out. He couldn’t handle that she passed. My Dad loved my mother with his whole being and when she died I think he broke. He has never been quite the same,not for one minute or one second of any day. As time marched on he got a little more forgetful, a little more fearful, a tad bit more frail. I took on more responsibility. I made out the grocery lists. I made sure his pills were matched out correctly. I made out the bills. I took him for haircuts. I took him to all his doctor appointments. I shopped for his clothes. (Yes I have great taste) I took him to church. Just me and Dad against the world. Until this last trip through the ER.
My father, whom I have cared for and loved and did my best to keep safe was being taken away from me. Okay so maybe that’s a little harsh. A case manager and a social worker at our local hospital felt that my Dad was now too frail of body and mind to be allowed to be released on his own recognizance and needed to be remanded to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To be placed in a facility with around the clock supervision. Yup, you guessed it, a nursing home.
I can’t lie. I have thought about it. I am getting tired. I am not Wonder Woman. I wanted to fight the good fight. I didn’t want to give up on the man who never gave up on me.
Does in rain in YOUR shower? It does in mine everyday.