Loving Dad at every stage
Do you find yourself missing the way your loved one was in a previous phase of Alzheimer’s/dementia?
I do. Well, I miss the sweet parts of my Dad in a previous stage. It was the middle stage. By then he had lost awareness about his illness and had terrible outbursts of anger almost daily. But he was also very sweet, loving and self-sacrificing in his own way. He appreciated beauty, loved people and cherished hopes for the future.
That’s the part of him I miss terribly. He’s in the hospital now, the disease so advanced that he doesn’t notice the change in seasons. Some days this is too heartbreaking to bear.
Dementia in Springtime
Spring and summer bring vivid memories of my Dad. He was so antsy, he always had to be active.
So every day we went for a long walk, and we’d comment on the blossoms on the trees, and all the flowers we spotted along the way, and the different animals we saw, like a family of ducks or a stray cat. He thought they were all cute.
This was after his first, life-changing seizure, the one that ushered him from mild dementia into the thick of the most chaotic symptoms.
At times it was easy finding attractions/distractions for him and other times it was impossible. But He was always delighted by the things we saw on our spring and summer walks.
Now I can’t walk outside without aching that he isn’t by my side. I can still hear his comments about the landscaping we came across and about his dreams for the future. I miss seeing his face light up with joy and his insistence upon petting every dog we passed and telling every young child how cute they were.
Springtime at the Hospital
I see him in the hospital now, where he’s been for a year. He can’t talk anymore and barely makes eye contact. He’s too weak to spend more than a few minutes standing up from his wheelchair.
Whether he recognizes me is doubtful. And my heart aches that I can’t talk to him like I used to and that he can’t dream about the future anymore.
He took his last spring walk in 2010, when he was too sick to walk faster than a shuffle, with Mom leading him by the arm. It was even too challenging to change his shoes, so he walked in his slippers, barely aware of his surroundings.
Obviously, I wish he were totally healthy again. But those memories of him are already so faded and because I spent 2.5 years building a new kind of parent-child relationship with him, I find myself missing him when he was healthy and also when he was mid-way through the illness.
I suppose when he passes away, I’ll miss my Dad in the advanced stage too. At least right now I can still hold his hand and I can tell when he’s happy and hug him and tell him “I love you” and sometimes even hear him say, “I love you too.”
I’ve been missing him for eight years now. But I especially miss him in springtime.