Post Father’s Day

“Hi daddy.”

“Well, hi!” my dad beamed. Oh, good he is having a good day.

I was wrong.  Last week was a good visit, but he has slipped back today to his shadow world.  Part present, mostly not.  I go along with the things that don’t make sense and calmly tell him “he owns restaurants” when he asks what my husband does for a living.

“Is that right?” he says with a gentle trace of his Southern roots.

He doesn’t seem to notice Rex. This is a depressing Father’s Day. I prefer the kind with “let’s get daddy some bagels and put his socks away for him” that I had left in order to come here.

I glance at pictures of my dad on the wall of his rooms then see him as he is now.  I suffer a cognitive dissonance.  My dad would hate this.

Two articles in the NY Times are very relatable.  Sunday’s about how by installing a pacemaker in the author’s father extended his life and made he and his family miserable.  I think the themes will resonate with others.  Life extension is not always quality of life extension.   This morning about delirium in the elderly in hospitals on the rise was right out of our life.  It’s his hospitalizations that accelerated my dad’s fall.

Here is the dad I always knew.  Out to dinner a few years ago with my sisters and our cousin Margo. The guy in this picture would not want to be the guy I saw yesterday.

Love you daddy.

TV Hospital versus Real life hospital

I’ve mentioned before about my dad’s declining health.  Well, it seems like it’s taken another step down.  Imagine a terraced yard.  Just when I get use to the view from one level, and it’s short comings, comes another step down.  Soon I will be in the street run over by traffic.

My dad has dementia.  And we decided assisted living was best for him 3 years ago, he was still pretty with it, but we didn’t want him to be alone.  I would take him out once a week for a meal or a movie.  Not a full life, but okay.  Then not only did he drop down more, so did I.  Madoff and a new baby made my weekly visits bi weekly.  And he was now using a walker, I couldn’t fit a walker and stroller in the car at the same time so I had to figure that in, and frankly, I was just more stressed, and sometimes visiting him was stressful.

Little did I know that would seem like the golden days.  In the last month he has been in the hospital twice.  Honestly, for nothing serious.  But, the first visit, combined with a change in meds pushed him further away from us.

Today I saw my dad and he said, “where are my girls?”  Meaning his daughters.  I told him I was here and that my sister’s would see him on another day.

Then I said, “you know who I am don’t you?”

His face lost some of the anxious mask he wears now, almost a little expression like his old self.

“I do, but why don’t you remind me.”

“I’m Daphne, I’m your daughter.”  And my heart broke a little.

Then he gripped my hands so tight.

“who am I forgetting?”

I named everyone in our family.  He long ago told me that when he is flying at take off he always recites the names of my mom and myself and my sisters like the Holy Trinity.  It was his prayer for our safety and for his.  I told him we are all okay.

“you are okay dad”, knowing that’s a lie.  The care giver he was with was someone my dad had told me about several times, he liked him, but now he didn’t see him.  I told him he was safe and that I would come again.

At one point when he looked hard into my eyes I saw a montage like a movie of my dad through my life.  A slim, well dressed, well coiffed man in the early ’70’s, more stout but still charming in the ’80’s. joyful at my wedding and even a few months ago at my home for his birthday.  I was searching for what was similar now. My father is a flawed man.  And has not led an exemplary life, but we could all be guaranteed that my dad made the biggest fuss over us.  He loved seeing his daughters.  A month ago he grabbed for Rex, trying to kiss him as Rex squirmed away from the non parent hands.  Now, he barely registered his presence.  Only a few weeks ago dad would have exclaimed, “look at you my boy!”

I know many others have gone through this.  And I guess it’s my turn, my families turn.  But, it totally blows.

This vlog was inspired by his most trip to the ER.