…that is all it takes. One heartbeat between life and death. He was a good man. He had a family. He loved the people in his life in the best possible way; by being there. This man was my Dad. I love him. He taught me to live, to be kind, to drive a car, change a tire, whistle like nobody’s business. All of the very best things that I am are because of him. He was my biggest fan and my most favorite companion. I get my singing talent from him. He loved a good laugh and horrible jokes. To me he will always be my SUPERHERO.
He could yodel and had a great Tarzan yell. He loved country (& Western) music and dabbled in turning a tune or two. He believed in a higher power and tried never to miss church. He was a good man. He had a wife and three daughters. He loved us with his whole being. My Dad never had much but was always ready to share what he could.
Over time my Dad lost many things, a daughter, a wife, precious siblings, memories he wanted to know. My Dad had vascular dementia. He never lost me. I had him in the palm of my hand. I protected and cared for him with everything I had. We made memories that will last me the rest of my life. My Dad passed away last night. There will never be a day that I won’t miss him. There will never be a day that I am not thankful for all the wonderful memories we made.
“You know that I love you Dad?” Yes, I know. I love you too, sweetheart.”
Go dance in the stars Pop… You are finally FREE!!!!
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.
Did you see that? A blur rushes past and I am not sure what it is I have seen/not seen. Am I invisible? Did that person just talk around me as if I am not in the room? not sentient? not alive? What the hell!?! Ever feel like that? like the person you are on the inside of your mind flies by you? no longer willing to stick around because they’ve been pushed to the back of the line so many times they are not sure they have any value left. Relax I am not invisible or crazy. Even though sometimes I’d liked to be one or the other if only for short spurts of time to get me out of laundry or housework.
There is always someone who thinks they “know” you. Somehow through observation and years of exposure to sides of you, these douche kabobs “think” they KNOW you. It makes me angry. Yes, I may react to certain situations in a scripted predictable way but that doesn’t guarantee the same results time after time. Do you look at me closely? do you see the rage I am barely controlling? would you be so bold if you knew I hated you enough to cause you harm? Most people who “know” me don’t know how dark my dark side is. I like it that way. Not because I am trying to deceive anyone. I am being honest. Each one of us has personality quirks that we are not proud of or want not to draw too much attention to. Isn’t that what make us so intriguing? individual? unique?
Anger is a dangerous emotion to let roam around freely. Perhaps people throw that saying around about “knowing” all about you because they don’t know. They don’t know how to help you through a rough patch. They don’t know how to make you feel safe, wanted, loved. We are all just people floating on the sea of Humanity hoping for a few glimmering minutes in the sun, aren’t we?