Saturday, July 18, 2009

His own private world

My dad has Alzheimer's. Next month he will be 87 and this insidious disease has robbed us both of enjoying his last years. For three years he's been in the locked-unit of a care facility. At first, when he still had an idea where he was, he'd ask me what he'd done to be so imprisoned. Then he'd swear never to do it again if he could just get out. There's no easy answer to that, or at least, not one he would have remembered even the next day. I thought this might be unique to him until another resident asked me the same question a couple months after that.

I must look like the answer-gal.

But now, Daddy just sits. He smiles when I come in. He hasn't been able to tell me who I am for several weeks. He hurt his hip about a month ago, was consigned to a wheelchair, refused to stay, and is walking again. He is still a strong physical presence.

I was feeling sorry for him (and truth be known, for myself as well), cheated of his last years as a viable member of society. The good thing is he hasn't a clue. He is, as a wise friend counseled, in his own private world. When he naps, he moves his hands and nods his head and his feet rock. He wakes up still in it. I can see that in his eyes if I'm sitting with him. He's not unhappy. Happy doesn't exist anymore.

Or does it in his own private world? Which is preferable--to have lost one's mental ability and not know it, or to lose one's body, be bedridden with a wonderful mind still active, but now tortured to exist in a cage of skin and bones?

Thank goodness, we don't get to choose, but Daddy does seem to have it best.

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At 3:10 PM CDT, Blogger Antique Mommy said...

This makes my heart ache. All of our people -- parents, aunts and uncles -- are getting older, mid-70s, 80 and even 90s. We lose about one a year. I am sober about what is ahead.

At 5:34 PM CDT, Blogger Sisker said...

It is both sobering and frightening. If there were a test to find an Alzheimer's gene, I don't think I'd want to take it. I'd rather go dumbly into that good night.


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