How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chapter 4 My Father's Apocalypse "Writing"

February 2010
      My dad’s handwriting before the Alzheimer’s was distinct. He would press the pen so that the letters became inked in so deep they seemed to have been fired into the paper. He printed in beautiful sturdy letters with no flourishes or curlicues. Perfectly formed letters that gave the rock solid impression of strength and permanence. That handwriting is a thing of the past. His hand writing now is uneven, hesitant, with misspellings and uneven sized words. Three months ago I was at his house and I walked in on him in the dining room. He was holding a scrap of paper and he turned to me and asked, “Who wrote this?”. I looked at the paper and noticed that it was a kind of “honey do” list that he had made out to himself concerning varying tasks to be completed for my grandmother.  I told him. “Dad, that’s your handwriting. Looks like it’s from a couple of years ago when Papa died and you took over some of the chores for your mom”. He told me, “No, that is not my handwriting”. I insisted it was and told him, “Dad, I know your handwriting and that’s it, believe me”. He stared at the paper a moment then said quietly, “Oh…. I had nice handwriting, didn’t I?” I agreed and hugged him. He put the paper down and walked out.
            The other night he was trying to write something and asked my twenty year daughter how to spell “they”. He had no idea how to even go about trying to figure out how to form the word into letters. When he had to create a personal narrative describing the affects of his PTSD for the V.A Center, he came to my house with hand written notes that I could barely decipher. He broke down several times when I asked him how to spell the name of a friend who had died in Vietnam, because I could not read his written version of the name. It was at that moment that I was glad I am a high school English teacher. I assured my father that I read essays every day from my students that made his handwriting look beautiful! Even so, it took us over an hour for me to type out a one page narrative. My father used to write songs, poetry really, that looked and sounded like works of art on the page. What happened? Does Alzheimer’s have to take everything away? Can’t it leave something?

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