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.
I wish there was some magic that would make your father’s situation change and your life return to normal but, alas, that is not possible. What I have to offer is nothing more than “my thoughts are with you.” Watching our parents grow old, frail, and even change drastically from the person we’ve always known is more than difficult. It cuts to the heart. May you somehow hold onto the happiest memories of him during this holiday season and know that he would BE that person if only he could.
Thank you for your comment – your last sentence drove me to tears. We have been loosing dad for sometime now but this drastic change was a tough one. One day at a time, one day at a time…
Oh mamma, I’m so sorry. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease, and it’s in my family too but having your father suffering like this must be incredibly hard. My heart goes out to you and to your mom. You write eloquently about it and thanks for sharing. I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts and I hope you keep posting anything you feel like getting out.
Thank you, it helps to write about it. I am sorry to hear that it is in your family as well. I thought coming back home from my parents house would be a hard transition but Cody and Carter’s energy and joy in life is helping me cope. I found myself laughing last night after Husband unwrapped the Christmas tree from its twine and the boys were more excited about playing with the long pieces of twine, wrapping it around furniture and hanging bits of it on the tree, than the idea of having the tree in our house.
What a horrible disease Alzheimer’s is….and I haven’t even begun to see the worst of it with my dad. I imagine your father is young like mine given you have small children. It just seems too soon – though I guess it would never be easy. My heart goes out to you— reading your “therapy” helps me too if it’s any consolation. In a way, it makes me feel less alone as I know so few people who really understand what we go through and what our loved ones are going through. I hope you can find some peace this Christmas.
Thank you for the comment. I have been checking out your blog from time to time and had not seen any activity so I was a bit worried about you and your father. Everyone’s journey through this disease is so different. I hope your family’s journey is as peaceful as it can be. It is good to “talk” with others who are going through similar challenges. My dad just turned 77, he had us kids later in his life than some others. But I agree, no matter the age it is still tragic. Hugs to you and your family. I have an article I should pass along to you and others that my mom and I found to be very helpful. I will look for it and post the link today if I find it.
I am so sorry for what is happening with your father. To witness a loved one’s mind melt away is horrible. My thoughts are with you as you work to keep things normal for your kids while mourning what your father has become.
Thank you Beth. I have to tell you that your nice write up about my blog on your post about getting The Liebster Award caused me to pause. I never really thought my blog was about my dad and Alzheimer’s but it is. It is a part of my life right now, a pretty intense part, and I write about my life. Thank you for your kind thoughts.
Hey shoes, it’s me. I’m sorry to hear about Dad’s decline, I know this is rough on you and I wish I had words at a time like this for you, all I can feebly offer is, I’ll be thinking of you and praying if you believe in that.
Isn’t it funny (not in a comical way of course) the things that toss us over the edge? The first year all my girls were gone was a horrible Christmas for me, yet I held it together the entire day until my sweet little nine-year-old niece presented me with a piece of cardboard to which she had taped 10 pennies, each penny dated with the year of the family member. I lost it.
I know it’s hard but try and find the joy in the boys excitement, it will help ease the sadness in your heart.
Thanks for the thoughts, prayers and hugs Jodi.
Ahhh, that piece of cardboard with those special pennies – how could you not cry. So eloquent and simple. I think it is the little things that get to me the most. His coffee cup hanging on a hook, his day to day calendar on the end table next to his lift chair forever stopped on the date of May 10th (why?), his birdfeeders which he never let run low now empty, his toothbrush. I could go on. It is like he is dead but he is not.
I am lucky to have a wonderful husband and two sweet boys to distract me yet keep me focused on what is important. Man, I sound so sappy sometimes but you get the idea.
It really is so often the smallest details that tip us over the edge. I think the larger details can seem too big to take in and remain a little bit distant so we can believe the situation’s not really happening. Yet the smallest details shock us into realising the situation is real. This may sound daft. But I lost my grandfather at the end of August and I really do not believe he’s gone. Every time I go to see my grandmother it’s just like he’s in another room. I only ever get tearful when I think of some tiny detail.
It really does not sound all that daft to me at all. I am sorry to hear about your Grandfather. I think the little details are those things that make our loved ones so real to us (does that make sense?) and so special but cause us the most pain to think about when they are gone or no longer who they used to be.
Thanks, and yes that makes perfect sense. That’s exactly how I see it.