My Father is Lost

You want to trust what your brain tells you. But my father is delusional. That’s what his doctor said.

He has reached his 90th birthday but not with everything intact. I look at a photo of him and my mother, taken three years ago when my daughter had her first communion. And I remember that as a time when he was still himself. He looks a long way away in that picture.

Now he doesn’t recognize my mother most of the time. I didn’t know this until about a month ago when he called me at home.

“Is mom there?” he asked me. I told him she wasn’t and asked why he wondered. Wasn’t she at home in their condo?

“I haven’t seen her for several days,” he said. She was in the next room. I know because I called a few minutes later and she picked up the phone.

A long time ago he joked that if he became senile one day, “Just give me a sandbox to play in.” It would be easy if we could just humor him. Sure dad. There are three other women who say they’re my mom. That’s okay. Sure dad. You got on a plane this morning and ended up in a strange place even though it looks just like your bedroom. But don’t worry.

It isn’t an old man re-entering the sweet innocence of childhood. It’s a former adult insisting what he thinks is true. He argues about it and my mother is getting tired of the arguments. I’m getting tired of the arguments.

He doesn’t have far to go in this life and I want him to be in a peaceful place while it lasts. Jim Fudge isn’t himself anymore. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Dad & Mom

Update Feb. 2016: This story has had a happy ending. Some trial and error in the use of medication has made my dad better. He recognizes my mom now, and seems to be his old self; his old old self at least. Though when you talk about happy endings you’ve got to remember Yogi Berra said it ain’t over ’til it’s over. That’s true of baseball games and of life.

 

 

 

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One Comment on “My Father is Lost”

  1. Peggy Says:

    Hi Tom,
    I’m sorry to hear this about your Father. I have heard a lot about your wonderful parents from Carol.
    You asked what you can do about it. There are some things, none of them easy, but they might help you and your family to understand what’s going on.
    Call the Alzheimer’s Association and ask for help. Your Dad may not have Alzheimer’s, but another type of dementia, but they can help no matter what.
    I do a lot of pet therapy with my dog in memory units. The folks that are coping the best are those that have learned to accept their parent the way he is now. It’s unconditional love. There’s no going back to where he was, so loving him for who he is today, and the next and the next through all his changes will help him and you.
    Be kind, be sweet, be very gentle with him because he’s probably way more scared than you can imagine.
    Lastly, accept that you – all of you – are grieving. This is a huge loss, but by ununderstanding what is going on within yourself, your family and your Dad, you may be able to wring every possible moment of joy from every day and at the same time, accept him for who he is now and as he changes.

    My step sister, Joanie, suffered from schizophrenia. One day she said she thought it would be easier to break her leg than have a mental illness because at least we could see it and know what to do about it. In her lucid moments, she was a very wise woman.

    I wish you well at this very difficult time and hope this helps a little bit.
    Peggy
    Rochester, NY


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