Many of you know that I’ve been racing against time and Alzheimer’s in getting my dad’s story. Sadly, my time is coming to an end. This disease is so cruel.
Two weeks ago, I had sent my daddy two chapters of the book I was writing about him. I was excited because I had worked really hard on them, and listened carefully to his recordings to get things down just right.
It’s not easy to write about someone who’s feelings are tightly vaulted, and who has often been very critical in my life, AND he’s my father. I wanted to get it right. He called me and said, “Shame on you.” I freaked out wondering what I had said that could cause him to be upset. Had I gotten details wrong? Did I send the right story?
Then he continued. Sheepishly he said, “You made me cry. You wrote that as if you had been there.”
Inside, my heart was dancing. He liked it! I had gotten this most sacred portion of his story right! Yippee!
Then, he said the ultimate, something I’ve waited for all my life, “I am proud of you.” Shocked, I gasped and replied, “Thank you daddy. That means a lot to me.”
A little later he said I was a good writer. Yes, you can tell me that I really don’t need his approval, and I would agree…but there’s some part of a human that wants this approval. I was elated and on a high…The next day, I got the call that my dad had a stroke.
The moment was bitter sweet. I got to embrace the sweetness for such a short while. And then, I got to find out how unmerciful Alzheimer’s really is. And, I got to see some of it’s beauty.
I saw my dad as he must have been as a little boy…playful, fun, joyful. And then I saw it bring him to his knees.
He begged me to bust him out of the hospital…he knew,though no one had said anything to him. He knew that he would go from rehab to the nursing home.
So, I got to celebrate the small things, like dancing to Carole King’s, “I Feel the Earth Move under My Feet,” even if it was only one hand. I was grateful for any movement. It was joyous to see the joy in his face and know he could have some happiness in his life.
This past week when I called, he could only mumble undiscernible sounds. I could hear him try to communicate with me, but he couldn’t. Through the phone, I felt his disappointment, and it crushed me…we had had our own language, and now we had to learn a new language to communicate.
Throughout my busy week, it was conference week, I sent messages from my heart to my dad. And when it was my last conference on Thursday, I called again. I knew he couldn’t talk so I just talked on the phone while he made sounds…attempting to hear changes in tone or rhythm to see if I could understand. I was determined to find a way. But I didn’t succeed. I was grateful he at least knew I was there and could make some sound.
Then yesterday came…I was sure I had devised a way we could communicate and had created a signal he could use to let me know how he was doing…but yesterday, he couldn’t make a sound…Not one audible sound. The phone just laid there. I couldn’t even tell by his breathing how he felt. It’s funny that the little girl in me still wanted a physical connection. I kept talking in hopes he could still hear me. I believe he could, and I told him that I would see him in 4 days. It doesn’t feel soon enough because it’s happening so fast.
The moral of the story: Love your peeps…hold them tight, squeeze them tight, love love love them with all your might…you never know how long you have them. And be grateful…grateful for their touch, grateful for their smiles and movement, and yes, even their undiscernible sounds…because it’s still of the physical world, and it’s still a connection.
I love you daddy…hang in there until I can see you.
November 23, 2014 at 8:39 pm
These words have produced a lot of different feelings, as I’m sure it was while writing them.
Hope you get to reunite with your Daddy to tell him you love him many more times.
November 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm
Thank you ever so much…And yes, I’ve gone from happy to sad to happy again. I do feel deep gratitude…and a sense of loss…Have a happy holiday my friend.
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November 23, 2014 at 11:14 pm
Ellie I want you give poppy a warm hug from me when you do meet him….please just hold him tight from me ….I sends you both all f my love ❤
November 23, 2014 at 11:43 pm
The emotions can be clearly felt through words. Hope your wishes come true and you get the physical touch again soon.
November 24, 2014 at 12:14 am
Reblogged this on The Joy of Writing.
November 24, 2014 at 9:09 am
Hoping for a wonderful time with your dad, and regretting us not being able to find the time to write my aunt’s story which would have been amazing. She has Alzheimer’s now and is not even speaking anymore but to have captured her life on paper for future generations is something I will always regret. At least you have done that, and your dad is proud of you. Great job 🙂
November 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm
Thank you for your sweet comments. I hope you still get time with your aunt. As cruel as Alzheimer’s is, there are sweet moments too. My dad has many sweet moments like a little boy. I play a lot of music for him, and I watch his heart dance…though sometimes he can only move one hand, you can see the joy in his face…and we play games with him…he really used to like to play dominoes. He always said he just doesn’t want to be forgotten. It sounds like your aunt is a wonderful beautiful spirit that will never be forgotten. Now, I get to ask others what they remember about my dad.
Have a blessed holiday…and hug your peeps. Marie
November 25, 2014 at 10:00 am
Your father is blessed to have a daughter like you. ..many of us lose touch with our parents as we live our own lives… and deal with our own struggles. Be happy in the thought that you share such a deep abiding and beautiful relationship. ….Both of you are blessed. Touched a deep chord in me. Thanks for sharing. ..hope you have the best time you can…. 😀
November 25, 2014 at 7:27 pm
Hello Aruna. I agree with you about losing touch…it has only been the last two years that I have had this relationship with my dad. I think what happens is we are involved in our own struggles, but also, we don’t really know what to say or what to ask…sometimes our parents just need us to be present. I will have the best time I can and enjoy any moments left of his physical presence…but I also truly believe that he will always be with me even when his physical presence is gone. Have a blessed week. :0)