Saturday, July 16, 2011
Chapter 1: My Father's Apocalypse "Diagnosis and Acceptance"
Since dad was diagnosed he has days when a dark certain descends on him. This is how he describes it: “a dark curtain”. On those days his movements are that of a very old man, his speech slows down, he does not smile, and he clings to me when I hug him. My father is not old; he is sixty-six. He and my mother should be traveling, enjoying their mountain cabin in Hiawassee, going to the movies together. Instead they are battling a disease they can’t see and one they can’t even fight. It is a no win battle. Alzheimer’s is going to win. There is no question about that. The only question is when.
Mom and dad are not giving up though. About a week after dad’s diagnosis I stopped by their house on my way home from work. I entered the house and called out for mom. She didn’t answer so I started making my way down the hallway to the back of the house. Dad came around a corner so I asked him, “Where’s Mom?”. He pointed to the sunroom, “She’s out there asleep”, he whispered. When dad and I entered the sunroom, we disturbed mom and she woke groggily from her nap. Dad looked at me and insisted, “She’s been asleep like that all day. I’ve washed the dishes, cooked dinner, mopped the floors, and cleaned the bathrooms”. I saw the expression on mom’s face and then I looked at dad. He was smiling a mischievous grin. My old dad. Mom, still nap dazed, said, “He’s lying! I’ve been asleep about 15 minutes”. She then looked at dad, saw the grin on his face, and told him, “You know, with Alzheimer’s, you’re supposed to forget things you’ve done, not remember things you haven’t done!”. Dad laughed and so did mom, He sat beside her on the couch and pulled her close and they hugged.
Sometimes laughter is all you have left. That’s when I knew that no matter what, mom and dad will meet this head on. It’ll be hard. Harder than anything they have ever gone through. Harder than when he was gone for a year fighting in a war. This is their new war. It may end up breaking them in the long run. . But as long as they can laugh with one another, Alzheimer’s will not win. One day, yes, but not yet.
Posted by Liti