I’ve been counting down the minutes until our trip to Florida. For months. Literally.
Sure, I was excited to get in the sun, sand, and ocean. Excited to see my sister and brother-in-law. But this trip was mainly about my dad. My amazing dad. His 80th birthday was coming and we’ve been planning his party for months. I could not wait. We planned a Kentucky Derby party for my pops, who’s always been a horse guy. Mint Juleps. Big Hats. And lots of people.
My husband, girls and I flew down on a Friday morning. The party was Sunday. (My Maria couldn’t come – which we were all sad about)
We went to the nursing home to see my dad. God, I love him. And miss him terribly. So we get there and there he was. He looked good. I gave him a huge hug. He looked at me with a blank stare. The truth is – he had no idea who I was. Not a clue. I was devastated. It felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. One of the worst feelings ever.
I talk to him, FaceTime with him, but haven’t seen him in months.
He didn’t know me.
His baby. His favorite (I think so, anyway).
I was so angry. I hate dementia so much. SO MUCH. It’s not fair. Here’s this man who has basically done everything for me – my entire life – and he didn’t know me. The man who was more like a best friend than a dad – and he didn’t know me. The man I could tell anything to – and did – and he didn’t know me. It hurt. A lot.
But, it’s part of life with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.
You just live with it. And hope the next day is better.
And Sunday – at the party – with around 50 people was better, too. My dad knew every single person there. He knew all of us. He was so happy. He was quiet. He was observant. He was happy. It was really quite amazing.
How did he go from not knowing ME. To knowing me and everyone else?
It’s what happens.
The pain of walking into that room – and have my dad not recognize me was hurtful and it triggered some strong emotions. That’s normal. For him, with Alzheimer’s Disease. And for me – with a dad with Alzheimer’s Disease.
It took me some time to realize that my dad had not forgotten about me. He hadn’t forgotten his daughter. I think maybe he remembered me as a little girl that day. Maybe. I’m not sure.
What I am sure about – is that watching a loved one go through the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease is heartbreaking. Watching someone I love experience mental pain – and knowing there’s NOTHING I can do – is heartbreaking.
That’s why soaking in those good times is what’s most important. Like we did at the party. Leaning in and sharing a private joke. Smiling across the room and knowing we’re both thinking the same thing. Hugging goodbye and praying he’ll remember again next time. Those moments are key. It’s not easy. Not by a long shot. But necessary. I do it. I try.
Once I get home, I’ll plan another trip back. And I’ll count the minutes until I’m there.
- High school senior starts bow tie business to help shelter dogs get adopted - October 13, 2020
- Local business hosts haunted house to raise money for Niagara County SPCA! - October 7, 2020
- Niagara Falls ‘Miracle’ Baby Beats Aggressive Leukemia After Successful CAR-T Cancer Immunotherapy in Buffalo - October 1, 2020