I didn’t think I’d lose my father this way. Guess “take the good with the bad” also applies to matters of the mind.

Now that my brother and his wife have headed back to Toronto, I’ve had some time to process my dad’s diagnosis that we found out about last week.  Today’s post will be brief, since my soul is overwhelmed at what lies ahead for me, and him.  I’m his POA, but more than that, I’m his eldest daughter, second born of all six of his children, and my heart is heavy.

I’ve always said, the most terrible way to have your life end must be with the crumbling of the mind.  To me, it truly seems like the cruelest way to spend your last days.  You’re living in this body, you don’t know.  Surrounded by people who know you, but you no longer have any connection, or recollection of.  Who is it worse for, the person losing their memories, or those left behind to watch it unfold??

I’ve witnessed friends go through it with in-laws, and parents, but to date we’ve never had a family member lose themselves due to Alzheimer or Dementia.  Now here I stand, trying to process the fact that this is the way I will lose my father.  My heart is broken.  I just didn’t think he would go this way.  I figured it would be his heart, since he has issues, or something related to all of his years of drinking.  Not like this.  I’m not ready for it.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot that my dad did wrong over the course of our forty seven year tumultuous father daughter relationship, and I’m sure on the one hand there is plenty that he’s done to me, my brothers, and my mother that he wishes, he/we could all forget.  And as it turns out, he’ll at least get that wish.  For when the day comes, the one that will be his last day, he won’t remember a damn thing about his time here on earth with us.

For him it might be the greatest blessing, to go out without memory of the affairs he had, the alcoholism that nearly destroyed four lives, if it hadn’t been for the strength of our mother who gave us something else to aspire to be.  Perhaps this is his reward for becoming sober almost twelve years ago.  The devastation that came at the hand of the bottle, for him, will be a thing of the past that he will never have to think about again.

In a strange and twisted way, when I think about his diagnosis of Dementia, this aspect of it brings me some joy.  You see, my dad is a sensitive person, who still to this day apologizes for the damage he caused.  He wishes each and every day that he had a better upbringing, that he himself hadn’t been raised by two alcoholics.  But his lot was his lot, and for the longest time, fifty four years of time, he allowed himself to be a victim of his circumstance.  Then he suddenly woke up.  He realized that he was repeating the exact patterns with his second family that he had done with his first, and he found within himself, not only the desire but the strength to put down the bottle.  And so, he’s been blessed with twelve good, sober years.  Good years that he soon, will also no longer remember.

Take the good with the bad they say, I guess this even applies in matters of the mind…

11 Comments

  1. I’m POA for my aunt who is in advance stage of Dementia. We just recently had to put her into a “Long Term” facility. In reality it’s a nursing home. We struggled with doing so, we weren’t ready to admit to ourselves that she was at that stage. Her care giver pointed out to us that she does not see things the way we do. She is not sad that she cannot remember things, she simply doesn’t know. We are the ones who are sad that her memory is failing. Now that she’s been there for a few months, we can see a marked change in her. She is smiling and happy and is taking part in the social activities of the home. She loves the musical entertainment the best. It’s the best thing we could have done for her – not us.

  2. I am so sorry for you and your family. I know everyone will to tell you to take it one day at a time, nothing else to do really, but first you have a lot to process. I know you will have the strength to do what needs doing because that’s who you are. There are medications now that can slow the progression a little, more time to resolve some issues perhaps.
    I’ve watched my dad’s life slip away little by little after each heart attack, I was 5 when he had his first, I lived in fear until his death 12 years later. Would I have been happier if he’d had dementia instead, not sure.
    Big hugs and prayers to you and yours. XX

  3. My heart goes out to you, Shantelle. You may remember that I wrote about my sister’s being afflicted with severe dementia. It is heartbreaking to watch, and as the many professionals who are involved in her care assure me, it is much harder on family members than it is on the one experiencing this horrible disease.

    I have an excellent therapist who specializes in helping those of us who are going through this difficult process, and he has helped me tremendously in ways to deal with the situation. He and the professionals at the care facility she lives in have been very helpful in helping me with coping strategies, and they have been very effective.

    In a previous comment I mentioned that my husband and I decided to go to Paris to get away from the demands of dealing with my sister–a plan that was encouraged by all of my sister’s care givers. It was a revelation. I was able to let go of my compulsion to react to her mood swings and various temper tantrums. We only speak to her once a day, no matter how often she calls us, and my daughter has developed a strategy for diverting her from her complaints and demands on us.

    She is happy with the one call a day and is easily pacified if we change the subject from sensitive topics of conversation.

    Watching her decline is so painful, but we are assured that she is not completely aware of what is happening to her, and at he rate of her decline, she will soon be unaware of those changes. While that is a horrifying and tragic development, it is really the best or her since she will be unaware of what has happened to her.

    I hope this has been of some help to you. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Sincerely, Rolayne

  4. Shantelle, thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Having gone through it with my mom and father-in-law, you are a strong woman and have a great family to support you which is key. Spend time with them now and be patient with them when they struggle, as it is frightening to them also.

  5. I know where you’re at right now and I want to tell you to try and stay positive…it may not be as bad as you think.
    The thing with dementia (in all it’s forms) is that it’s never the same in two people, so all the horror stories you’ll hear about memory loss and behavioural changes may not apply to your Father.
    In my case my Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s around 2 years ago, although she was showing symptoms (that we stuck our heads in the sand about) for a year or so before that. We cared for her at home for a while but other health issues meant she finally had to go into care and yet despite being uprooted from her home and the memories that it held for her, her general memory is no worse now than 2 years ago. Yes, we have good days and bad days but her memory decline is slow and for all we know may never get worse than it is now.
    So stay strong, try not to fear the worst and make the most of the time you have together.

  6. So sorry to hear this, Shantelle! It really is one of the cruelest fates to befall a person and family.

    I recently saw a programme with the English TV-star Angela Rippon, called ‘The Truth About Dementia’. She lost her mother to dementia, and this show was all about understanding the disease, from a medical as well as a human point of view. It was incredibly interesting to watch (if very up close and personal at times). I think it’s a BBC production.

    Much love and support.

  7. Sad for you SB, the cruelty of dementia /Alzsheimers is beyond belief.
    Love & thoughts at this soul searching time x

  8. So sorry you and the family will have to take this journey. It’s incomprehensible. We fortunately never experienced this with our parents. Can only imagine how difficult it must be. God bless him and all who will care for him.

  9. Have been through dementia with my Dad. I also work Geriatric Psychiatry. What I remember and tell my families are to remember the good times, not what happens through the disease process. Ontario had a great support system that you will find very supportive. Take care through this journey. Know others are thinking of you. Mann Arden writes a wonderful blog in this journey that is very therapeutic and she writes from the heart.

  10. Very sorry to hear this, Shantelle. I lost my Mom just over 3 years ago to Alzheimer’s.

    Hold your memories and you dad close. It was amazing how she remembered her girls and my dad until the last couple of months.

    If you ever want to talk, I have been in your shoes and I’m happy to listen and share what our journey was like, knowing that all journey’s are as unique as we are.

    Strength.
    xo

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