Thursday, August 28, 2014


I went to see Dad yesterday for the first time since getting back from Boulder, CO (site of lots and lots of Shakespeare!) It was good to see him, and I was early enough to catch him at lunch, which I usually try to avoid since I don't like getting in the caregivers' way. He was pretty alert, and he half-smiled at me when I smiled at him, and widened his eyes at me in the teasing way he sometimes does. His favorite caregiver told me that Dad had said "Hi!" to him that morning, which apparently is a rare occurrence. It was good to hear that Dad still reached out sometimes into the world.

The last few times I've visited; in fact, most of the time when I visit, Dad has been sleeping. I don't know if it's just the disease making him sleepy, or perhaps he just prefers to descend into sleep as much as possible. However, on my last visit, I realized that he might not really be sleeping. In fact, as I watched him raise his arm to scratch his face, while keeping his eyes resolutely closed, I realized that he might just be retreating from a world that is no longer comfortable or comforting.

It made me think, as I drove away, about him squinching his eyes closed, even though he may have known I was in the room. I thought about how rarely I see him awake and alert, and about the fact that he may not be unconscious all the time - he might just be enduring. And if there's one person who can endure - it's my father. He was the most stoic, quiet, uncommunicative man and he bore the dramas, injuries, and traumas in his life without complaint or discussion. He just tightened his jaw a little further, and kept on. The only time I really saw him unhinged was when my mother died.

It makes me sad, the fact that he's just enduring what has become an untenable and unbearable life. I try to enjoy every little, tiny thing about my life because I don't know how long I'll have it, or what will happen, so I try to be grateful for what I have. There have been times, mercifully short, when I have had to just endure life - once when I got Rheumatoid Arthritis and once when I relapsed - and I remember how horrible it was and how glad I was when it was over. I would hate to have to endure the life that was happening to me...for years.

And that's what is happening, with dementia sufferers and their caregivers. Endurance, sometimes for years, of difficulties, dramas, and unbearable indignities. There is really nothing to do but endure and hope for something better for our loved ones after their death. Most of the time, I hope Dad doesn't have to endure much longer. Today, though, it's nice to see him up and about, enjoying his lunch as much as he ever did, surrounded by people who love him.

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