The angels took my Daddy home today. His journey in that crazy, dark world of Alzheimer’s disease is over. As you might expect, there is enormous relief but there is also anger for the years this disease stole from me. I really only had one fear in life and that was losing my Dad. He was my hero, my advocate, my confidant, and my rock. The foundation of “me” feels a little shaky tonight but he would want me to be strong. So strong I will be.
In some ways it doesn’t seem like seven years have passed since we first heard the words “He has Alzheimer’s”. The first years were not so bad. Sure, he forgot things and he put things in strange places but we didn’t mind so much. Love, when unconditional can carry you through things you never dreamed of. The real tough part came when we knew it was time for assisted living. Looking back I’m sure that was when we started fast-tracking through the advanced stage of the disease. We were prepared, we though, for what was to come.
I don’t guess you are ever really ready though. The end came fast and hard and the beast tried its best to take the last shred of dignity from my Dad. It was a powerful enemy but our love for my Dad was stronger. With the help of some amazing and dedicated folks at the assisted living facility and the skilled guidance of hospice, my Dad was cared for in a way he deserved. He was surrounded by love and light and had the permission of his entire family to take leave of his bondage here on earth. There may be a hole in my universe today but there will be a new star in the sky tonight. Rest in peace my amazing and loving Daddy. You are finally free!
Writing hasn’t been a priority lately. You may have noticed. Well, you probably didn’t notice and that’s okay/ If you’ve ever read my blog it was ,most likely because someone you love has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and will understand. I haven’t written because there really wasn’t much to say. Not much has changed.
While I wasn’t writing, I have continued to grieve over the loss of my Dad. No, he hasn’t died but he is every bit as gone as if that were true. Dad has lost a lot of ground. His communication is random and mostly a garbled mix of sounds that once were parts of words. He still smiles if you act like you told him something funny and on a really good day, you can tell him who you are and he will say something like “that[‘s nice”.
I have become obsessed with Daddy’s hands. I think of his hands often and remember the gentleness of his touch. Sometimes late at night I flash back to better days when his strong grip on my shoulder was as close to a hug as he could muster at the time. Mostly I remember him walking up behind my mother and scratching her back tenderly. It was how he said “I love you” to her without words.
My Dad wore two rings; one on each hand. He never took them off. One, his wedding band and the other a ruby Masonic ring that was passed down through the family when he became a Mason. Dad lost the ruby ring about a year ago and he has lost so much weight that we took his wedding band home before it too was lost. Even without the rings, I am still obsessed with Daddy’s hands. The hands are all that physically resemble this man who has held my heart in those hands for almost 60 years and oh how I miss him.
It’s funny how something as simple as the sight of those hands can trigger a lifetime of memories. And I find myself wondering if Alzheimer’s will one day steal those too.