Frank

April 14, 2016

My father looks the same basically as he always did; he is just an older version of the same man who raised me and has been such a major figure in my life all these years. Inside, though, he has vastly changed. Dementia has been gradually eating away all remnants of the man I know and love so well. The man who at 4AM woke me wielding a baseball bat at the open front door and hollering at nonexistent intruders is a stranger to me. I do not know this fragile, elderly figure who looks at me with a blank gaze and clearly does not know me either. This (nevertheless) dear man asks incessantly where my mother is, when the man he used to be would remember that he took her to the ER yesterday and that she spent last night in the hospital. This dear, bewildered man has been lost without his wife of 67 years. He has been wandering the house blindly, calling her name and asking me where she is. I tell him each time, but five minutes later each time he asks again. This professor of music education, who played in big bands and semi-professional baseball as a youth, awakened me last night pounding on my door asking where my mother is. I am trying to reconcile this man with the father I have always known and loved. I know I need to get to know this version of my beloved Pip, and the versions that will likely follow. At this point he still has lucid moments, thankfully, when his eyes fix on me with recognition and he calls me by my name. But for the past 24 hours, he has been trapped in the dream he keeps repeating, the one in which he sees Mom walking down a street at twilight and he approaches her from the other direction. This dream is reality for my father. It breaks my heart, but I apply a figurative Band-Aid and keep listening to him, holding his hand and sitting tough.

Mom may be released from the hospital today after a thankfully successful procedure. We both hope that her return will soothe Dad’s troubled mind and spirits. But we also know it will not last.

Meanwhile, my dad is smiling as he watches a cardinal take flight from the dogwood tree outside the kitchen window. I kiss his cheek and finish folding the last piece of laundry for the day. Done.

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One Response to “Frank”

  1. Becky: you probably don’t remember me but I approached you at the JCC and told you how much I enjoyed your blog. I am so glad to see that you are still writing. You weave words into a tapestry, even when it is something as sad as your father’s dementia. Please post more when you can.

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