I am not trying to be morbid this morning, but I was thinking back to a couple of different funerals that I have attended over the years and it made me think of how much Alzheimer’s is defining who dad is in his later years. How very unfair to him! Because mom and dad moved to Fayetteville to an assisted living facility over two years ago, dad in particular, has had little contact with their neighbors and family that were left behind in Washington. At the time that they moved, dad was displaying aggressive and paranoid tendencies. Their large social circle had reduced, partly because as you get older, it is harder for friends to get out and about, but I also think that some people didn’t know how to talk to dad.
It is my hope that his friends, family and neighbors will remember the easy going man that worked all of the time. He was always willing to help others. While he was teaching, he gave his FFA kids and students so much of his time and energy. If he was home, he was working in his much loved yard and playing on the farm. He loved to visit with neighbors and he and mom knew everything that was going on in the neighborhood.
I don’t want him to be associated only with the Alzheimer’s, although it consumes our life right now. Although it is all important right now, this unfair Alzheimer’s is only a blip in his lifeline. He will be 87 years old this year. Alzheimer’s has been around for about 7 of those years. But he had a wonderful, full life for 80 years and that should count for something. I don’t mean for this to sound like a eulogy, but I get so caught up in the daily care that I need to remind myself to remember all of the things that he did and that we shared over the years. He is a great father and a better husband. He was a great neighbor and he loved his family. Those are all of the things that I remember when I visit with him and the things that I want to remind others about him. I think that it is time to get the photo box down again and go through them. Although it makes me cry, it brings back so many happy memories that I should be able to be remembering with him right now, but that is not possible. So, I will continue to do this for him and remind others of the things that have mattered in his life. That is one sweet man!
I benefit from reading your posts because we all know folks who have been on this journey, and we never know when someone close to us will embark on that sad and winding road. My mother was also incapacitated (from a brain bleed) for over two years and had to be cared for in a nursing home. Like you, the memories of 80 plus years of good health and a wonderful life fade away in the all consuming day to day task of making sure their needs are met in the present. However, the blessing of those memories came back stronger than ever after Mama passed away. Instead, her time in the nursing home faded (thankfully) from my memory until it seems like a very distant and unimportant part of her life. When I remember her, it is never in her debilitated state; it is always good memories of her at her very best – because she was the very best!
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