It was mention of the toenail trimming that made me finally loose it.
Not seeing my dad in restraints.
Not watching my dad thrash uncontrollably.
Not the expressions on his face nor the noises he made, grunting and half words.
Not even watching my mom watching her husband, my dad, endure this.
I cried in starts and fits when I allowed myself to think about these things too much. But no, I did not break.
Not while talking to the director of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia long term care facility.
Not when the check was written to hold him a room realizing he would never come home.
Not the worry that the doctors would not be able to wake him from the trembling, thrashing, unconsciousness that consumed him. Or what part of him would be left, if any.
It was during the tour of the care facility. The director commented that all the services: meals, toiletries, hair cuts, administration of medicine were included except the once a month foot care service. I did not especially care to know what that was but in such situations one should ask questions, right? So I asked and she told us that for $19 a service was offered for a foot bath, massage, and pedicure. But, she said, they would of course trim his toenails anyway.
It was that image. The thought of some stranger cutting my dad’s toenails. The thought of my dad, a proud, decent, independent man needing such a thing. It caused me to tip. It was like a pressure starting in my chest, pushing outward and radiating to all my limbs. I stepped back and took a couple quick steps away. I turned my back while mumbling something about trying to hold it together. And I let myself have a pause. Then I turned back and we went out to see the courtyard with the lone birdfeeder, hanging.
It has been a very rough several days. I feel like I am sinking over and over again and I just can’t get ahold of anything solid. The Alzheimer’s mind of my dad on Saturday night mistook his wife for someone who wanted to do him harm. She locked herself in the bathroom with her cell phone and had to call 911. It has not gotten much better from there. He has been in a semi vegetative state since Sunday morning. Something is very wrong and the doctors don’t know why he has not woken up.
I don’t think dad even knew I was there.
Not a present is wrapped nor a Christmas card written. I somehow much find the Christmas spirit or at least find a way to fake it for the sake of my boys.