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.