Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Excerpt

"Can there be any task more difficult for a child to face than having to parent your parent? Stepping in to care for a parent with Alzheimer’s, who will henceforth need every decision made for them? Weathering the inevitable and understandable anger and resentment, often focused on their caregiver? All while dealing with the fact that your parent will ultimately forget all about their lives and their loved ones. I had made the choice to take up that burden. What made it even more difficult for me was my relationship with my Father. He had been physically absent for much of my childhood and emotionally distant when with the family. Throughout my life, I felt that he didn’t know how to build a relationship with me. Nor did he seem to want to know who I was. At a crucial moment in my life, he had neglected my physical and emotional needs, leaving me alone dealing with a near-death illness. When I recovered, he never acknowledged I had an illness, never recognized that said illness might be making my life extremely difficult to lead, and withheld the financial or physical help I might have needed.
I was sacrificing precious time and energy caring for a man who not only hadn’t acknowledged me in the past, but due to the nature of his illness, was not able to recognize what I was doing for him in the present. If I wasn’t careful, I could completely disappear; a forgotten shadow able to feel nothing but resentment, bitterness, and anger. I was fortunate to have a therapist who repeatedly pulled me back into the present, reminding me why I was doing what I was doing. I knew that I didn’t want to miss anything during this long goodbye. I wanted a chance to connect with Dad before it was too late. She helped me work through old anger and resentment while living with Dad, and showed me that while he would never be able to go back and change the past, the exchange and the connections we were making now would give me rewards to carry into the future."

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