Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Dad Book


(This is a repost.  I realized today that the original was missing the last couple of paragraphs).

"You did a great job raising your kids."

"Thank you."

Months later, as I replayed that last meaningful conversation I had with my Dad in my head, I wondered if he knew he was talking with one of his kids. The facial expression I remember could have been saying he thought he was talking with someone else about his kids. Why the hell didn't I phrase my comment in first person. "You did a great job raising us."

That's the tricky thing about Parkinson's-related dementia: it's hard to tell if the person you're chatting with is in or out of a dementia episode. It's equally challenging to determine if he or she knows they're in or out of an episode.

Dad was aware at some point that he experienced dementia. He told me once that he knew what he saw outside of the kitchen window was the roof of the house next door, but sometimes he was certain he saw men coming over the hill toward the house. The shingles on that roof appeared to move. There were no men and no hill, he knew it, but sometimes was convinced they were coming and it scared him. The thought of men attacking scared him and the thought that he saw them when he knew they were shingles also scared him.

Dementia scares me too. My girlfriend's Mother is having dementia episodes regularly. I hear her side of phone chats with her Mom, repeating things she told her a few minutes before, clarifying that today is Thursday, confirming that the doctor appointment is tomorrow, verifying that the month is May.

The last time I saw my Mother, she didn't realize I was her son till the third day of my visit. Scary.

I seem to forget things more often than usual lately. Is that some kind of dementia?  Is it a 'senior moment'?  I hate that term, by the way. Is occasional forgetfulness just a normal part of living a complex, busy life?  Living a complex life for 500, Alex.

I remember many minor details of the first time I meet people ... which barstool I was sitting on when I met Jennifer nearly four years ago, which row of cubicles I was walking in when I met my friend Wendy 33 years ago, which conference I met my boss two years before she became my boss. I remember minor details of how to tell a '65 Mustang from a '66 Mustang ... the absence or presence of that 3-prong chrome piece a foot behind the door, the horizontal speedometer vs. the round one.

I remember that last meaningful conversation with my Dad as I waited for a taxi to take me to the airport that afternoon nearly twenty years ago.

And I remember the decision I made yesterday to begin my book about him with the same narrative I used to begin this post.

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