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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Dad

My father’s Alzheimer’s has taken hold much more than a few months ago.  If he even remembers that my mother is somehow related to him, by blood or marriage, he calls Mom by the name of his long dead sister.  He is also adamant about getting a job and helping out his also long-dead parents, and needs to go “home”.  In this case, home is where he lived as a young teen.

This is the “sundown effect”.  Symptoms of dementia tend to have a circadian rhythm, and usually are worse at sundown or after.  When I talk to Dad at other times of the day, he’s like he always has been recently – present in the moment, whatever that is for him.  He remembers when he is told, or at least imagines he remembers, what he did a few hours ago or sometimes a few days ago, on the better days but can’t remember how long ago it was.

At sunset, what I now accept as “presence” fades away.  While before he only spoke to us of stories from the distant past, even though they weren’t the stories we remember, and thought they happened recently despite the intervening years, now he lives out those stories daily around sundown.

My father started working to assist our parents before he was a teenager – nine years old sounds familiar.  Unlike many Newfoundlanders, we were not a fishing family.  I’m not really sure what we were, but fishing has never been mentioned.  At the age of 9 Dad took a job of some sort, and this is where his mind is now.

My father was a nine-year old 76 years ago.

The telephone next to me is flashing that it has a message from my mother.  The messages are often innocuous, but I know the day is coming when it won’t be.  This year, I’m trying to decide to go home to see Dad before the event we know is coming, the event in which he no longer responds knowingly to anyone, or if I should simply wait and go home after the next event in which he simply no longer responds at all, and his body finally gives up.

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