There comes a time in everyone’s lives where you either face the demon or you don’t. Not one to shy away from much, including a nasty demon who was helping himself to my father, something simply had to be done.
I knew long before anyone else in the family that dad was exhibiting signs of dementia. When I brought it up to my mom and sibling back in 2006, they thought I was nuts … only, I wasn’t. It was the one time I wished I was wrong. It wasn’t long before dad knew something was wrong too. One day he confided in me that he was worried because his once sharp memory was “fading fast and he couldn’t remember things anymore.”
I encouraged dad to see his family doctor for testing, but he never did or he cancelled appointments. Mom didn’t push the issue, despite my sweet badgering, because as I was to learn later on, she was afraid. So afraid to uncover the truth that it seemed to paralyze her, and she was a strong woman.
The letter I will share with you is a very personal demonstration of love between my father and myself, and how I saw things as they were rudely unfolding and trying to blacken our world. Not knowing what to do, or even how to begin doing it, I looked deep inside to find the right kind of solution because I felt damn helpless. All my life I could solve any problem, help anyone, come up with solutions. But I couldn’t beat this … not with all the tenacity in the world!
Of everything that I had heard about dementia, how could anything ever be right again? It was that quiet inner voice that won my attention and I tried to reach my father through the love I had for him. “Love conquers all,” they say, and if that is true, my words would touch my father’s soul. That is exactly what I intended. If I couldn’t help him fight and win, the least I could do was offer love and hold him up.
I just found this special letter in a box among my mother’s “keepsakes” from her estate; she kept it for a reason. If you know anyone who can benefit from it, please pass it along, because it worked. It reached both mom and dad and we all faced this demon together. Being the front guy facing this enemy is the single, most frightening experience of my life. There was no sword big enough, nor shield large enough to protect from its talons. But there is always love …
Part 2 … coming next week
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Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.
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3 thoughts on ““Dear Dad””
My mother has been diagnosed as being in the early stages of dementia. Apparently there is a med that can help her however she can’t afford it. She is doing whatever she can to keep her mind active. She sews, reads, crochets and gets out into the community. I dread the day that that she will need more than these activities.
“Thank you for your
comment. I would call your local Alz. Association to find out
programs that have for low cost, no cost meds. Try this link, third paragraph down, that says ‘Click Here’ for patient assistant
I am certain they can help provide medication for your mom. One of my biggest concerns was how this would affect dad. I worried too, but what I learned was that we can only take one day at a time, so try to make the most of it. Sounds corny, I know, but what I wouldn’t give to have him back to enjoy his company. Your mom is still very vital and that is an excellent sign. No need to dread now, as you will face that later, but by then you will both have come to terms with it. For now, just keep it positive and enjoy each other. This time is a gift. ” ~Julie
I had a similar experience with my mom. I saw dementia coming at least 2 years before others acknowledged it – including the staff at her continuing care community. Mom lived alone in the independent living section, as my dad had already passed. I saw the “movie” as I’d visit my mom for an entire weekend, and got to see her 24/7 for a few days. Others only saw the “snapshot” – short glimpse of my mom in the doctor’s office or brief visits by my sister for dinner. Mom was able to be “on” for short periods of time and fooled everyone. I got to see the waxing & waning and other challenges because she couldn’t sustain the ruse for more than a few hours. I encourage people to honor their instincts and intuitions if they suspect dementia. Medicare would have covered some of the cost of the medication, but by the time it was acknowledged by everyone, I’m not sure it was able to help her that much since there was at least 2 years of decline — maybe longer — before she started the medication. Unfortunately, Mom did not tolerate the medication well due to side effects and it was eventually stopped. She now resides in the skilled nursing section of her community. Overall, she is happy, and still recognizes me on most days — a blessing that I honor because I don’t know how much longer this will happen. Some days I am her sister instead of her daughter, and this allows me insight into who my mom was as a 20-something. I meet mom wherever she is on the days that I visit, and accept who she is in that moment. No matter what stage of cognition she is in, she is still the gracious, lovely person that her friends and family know and love.