The hardest thing is watching somebody you love forget they love you

Dearest Dad

I know you’re scared and if I’m honest I am too and more than a little devastated. As you have always said to me life is seldom fair and you are so right. Your stroke had been a bitter blow for the family but we have been so proud of the way you have dealt with your rehabilitation and will always be grateful to the medical team who have supported you throughout.

It was a truly priceless moment when you were able to sit behind the wheel of the car again for the first time in eighteen months beaming ear to ear with joy from regaining your independence which regrettably would be short-lived. I have been right here alongside you throughout the highs and lows and cheering you on from the side lines. It’s been a big learning curve for all of us and I think I’m a better and more patient person as a result. You have borne this struggle with grace and humility which is something many would have wrestled with. You have fought valiantly against all odds and overcome every challenge so it seems a cruel disappointment to ask you to do that again particularly as there will ultimately be no reprieve or happy ending this time around.

We’ve both known for some time that things just haven’t been right. A bigger and more fearful spectre has crept into our lives whilst we were busy focusing on your rehabilitation one which we both chose to ignore partly through fear and partly ignorance. We all quickly dismissed your forgetfulness as tiredness or a side effect of your medication. Forced smiles and pretence isn’t something that you or I can do very well for any length of time and inevitably we have had to face up to the consequences.

I’ve always thought that you need to roll with the cards you’ve been dealt but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel a little dismayed at having my new-found freedom brought about by your recovery, snatched away quite so soon. As much as we would like to even we can’t beat this malevolent condition.

By the time you read this we will have started the process of tests again and yes there will be changes some good and some less welcome. There will, no doubt, be a few less than sunshine days when we will all rage with frustration but amongst them will be precious moments too. So let’s make these the best days of all filled with our favourites things; picnics, blackberry picking, kite flying and sitting on the porch watching the sky ablaze with lightning during a summer storm. Neither of us can change the future but we can make every cherished moment count.

So for now old fella, whilst this is just another setback along the road it’s a journey you won’t have to walk alone. We will always be able to smell the flowers and there’ll always be more dances but as with everything else in life we need to take this one step at a time just as we’ve always done.

dad & girls 2

57 thoughts on “The hardest thing is watching somebody you love forget they love you

  1. Well damn it Tink…I’m sorry to hear about another, even greater, battle looming over you, your family, and especially that magnificent father of yours. Your heart is on this page in the words of love, loyalty, respect, honesty, and bravery, that you have expressed to him. My heart is with you, my thoughts and prayers too. One step at a time…the only way my friend. With love…R

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      • I’m doing well, all considered. I still find myself reaching for the phone, or telling my husband “Call my Dad” when he presents me with a home repair question I don’t know the answer to…his committal service at the Veteran’s Cemetery is next month (had to wait for the ground to thaw). Maybe after that, I’ll stop doing that, I don’t know…I talk to him a lot…though mostly when I’m blue, and it makes me feel better. You’ve got a sh&t road ahead of you (though there will be some really good side paths along the way) and I want you to know you’ve always got a place to come if you want to talk. Your writing has helped you capture and keep the best (and worst) times of your life…but it’s your knowing and loving heart that will help you appreciate every moment still to come…xo

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  2. Hi Dallas,

    Been awhile since I’ve commented. I’m so sorry to hear this about your father. I’ve always enjoyed reading about him in your posts, he seemed like such a sweet soul and all around fun guy. My family went through this with my grandmother. She had dementia but the end result was the same. It’s hard to watch someone you love disappear like that. In fact, I feel like I never really got to know my grandmother, most of my memories are associated with her repeating the same questions, telling the same stories over and over. I fear the same thing will happen with my mom (it’s hereditary and my great-grandmother ended up the same way) but I try not to think about it because it’s to heartbreaking. Many families share your struggle. It’s also okay to feel resentful about being a caretaker–it’s human and it’s not fair. Hope your family is holding up okay.

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    • Do you know I’ve been feeling so guilty about my resentment and I haven’t been able to blog for some time as I felt that my unhappiness will spill over onto the page but writing this post and reading all your comments has been cathartic and I feel more at peace now than I have in a while

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  3. Oh Tink… this is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through. Of course you’ll come through stronger than ever, but at what price? When my mom started down that road it felt as though she was dying by inches. You may not see them much, but there will likely be tiny glimpses of your dad left even to the end. I remember one time when I went to visit her after breaking my ankle. I hobbled in on crutches and asked how she was doing. Despite the fact that she had pretty much quit acting as though she recognized me, she managed to quip that she was doing better than I was on my crutches! Little spots of sunshine that her wonderful impish sense of humor was still there…
    Wishing you strength through this journey.

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    • My Dad’s still in the very early stages and initially his concerns were dismissed but we both know there was something not quite right as like your mum he has good days and some not so good days so we’re going to make the most of the good days. Think you must’ve got your sense of humour from your mum?

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  4. My dearest friend! You will be in my thoughts and prayers as you begin a new journey. Your voice of compassion inspires and comforts because you speak to the essence of the human experience. In the end it is about the love we have given and received that will be remembered. That is the thought I hold in my heart. In joy and sorrow, love sustains and heals.

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    • I hope so Rebecca, I feel more at peace since I wrote about it. Some things you just can’t change and sadly this is one of them so we’re just going to have to deal with it but then again I usually like to face things head on & this will be no exception

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  5. I am so sorry, Dallas.
    anyone who has read any of your posts can see how much you love and respect your dad.
    I’ve never met him and yet through your writing I can picture him in his garden, clipping and pruning…
    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family ❤️

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  6. . . keep on truckin’ Dallas, although it is not going to be easy – J and I know! We are also of an age where we reckon that we can pretty much manage a brain between us and keep each other out of trouble. I recall Katherine Hepburn saying ‘As I’ve grown older I’m missing many things, but I miss my mind the most.’ Work hard at not being despondent, keep on loving and make plenty of space for yourself.

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  7. I’m so very sorry life is so painful and challenging right now. I think of Joseph who went through so many painful challenges but at the end of his life was able to say what had been intended for evil by his brothers God turned around and used to His good purpose (Gen (50:20). That’s my prayer for your Dad, you, and every heart that loves your Dad that our Heavenly Father who makes the impossible, possible would somehow turn this to His good purpose for all of you.

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  8. As you know I lost my gran earlier this year but far harder had been watching her deteriorate in the last couple of years before she passed, now my mum is not the type to kick up a fuss but I know you won’t be easily put off, fight and shout for treatment and do not be told there is non because that is bull, there is no cure but there are drugs which slow down the progress of the disease considerable they earlier they are prescribed the more effective they are, I know this because my ex’s mum works with dementia patients and she says doctors are often reluctant to prescribe them because of the cost. I wish I could give you a miracle cure but the only advice I can give you is keep him talking, learn all his stories ask the questions now about his childhood I promise you each and every extra memory you listen to is like an extra gift to cherish. Modern medicine does so much to keep the body going for years longer than it was originally designed for now they just need to do the same for the brain. lots of love and hugs to you all xxxx

    PS next friday you might want to show him one of the videos I will be putting on my blog, it is a trip with the monster round Greenhead Park

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    • Some very sound advice there, Paula so we’re back to the doctors on Wednesday so will do some research before I go as he’s been dismissed once already. He said he knows Greenhead Park well so he’s quite looking forward to it x

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    • I think you will agree with this completely but in addition to everything thing else he gets great comfort & entertainment from our four-legged family members. Hopefully we’re still in the early stages and God willing we’ll be given a little more time

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  9. It is heartbreaking, isn’t it…I’ve been through the same with my dad less than a year ago. Laugh and love as much as you can, and know that the strength you need to get through this will be there when you need it. Sending peace and light to you and yours.

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    • Thank you so much! It’s still very early days for us we already feel we’ve run a marathon getting Dad through the stroke but this is unchartered territory for us so any advice you can share with me would be gratefully received.

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      • Oh, Dallas, just try to be patient with him as he goes through the many changes to come. Don’t take it personally if he says hurtful things sometimes…it’s just the disease/condition talking, and he can’t help it. It was scary for my dad, too, and he knew things weren’t right and told us how he felt. Underneath it all he is still the loving, caring father we always knew. …Otherwise, if you haven’t already, think about getting paperwork in order, such as power of attorneys for general things, medical, and financial, and his will if that hasn’t been done. There is so much legal stuff to consider, people to talk to about it all. Do this while he is still aware of what is going on, and can provide knowledge of his wishes. Hope these suggestions help in a small way. I know it is a hard road to travel with your family. God bless and keep giving you peace and strength, love and light. xo

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  10. Oh Dallas, I am sorry. Know if it is what you think, there are drug therapy’s that will slow the process. I know I went down this road with my beloved father and they worked for a long time, kept him stable and on solid ground for much longer than might have been possible without.

    I wish I could hug both of you and help.

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    • Its comforting to know that there are many in the same situation but what a dreadful disease. Btw on my third or was it my fourth blogging anniversary when I was thinking of packing it in, I was reminded of one of the biggest laughs I had when you told your story about the Meatloaf musical request and I knew then that you couldn’t buy that kind of laughter and neither could you get the support I’ve had from my fellow bloggers so I’m sticking with it whilst I can and I wanted to thank you (and my fellow bloggers) as one of the most supportive blogging mentors I know

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  11. I had retweeted this several timings as sort of a social bookmark reminding me that I especially wanted to stop by. And now I have. Your title so vividly captures one of the hardest aspects of this experience. The confrontation does come from fear, but it is so very hard. There is a book I read called Learning to Speak Alzheimers which was very helpful in helping to understand and reduce confrontation. But it can be so very hard not to take it personally. My heart is with you.

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    • I know that this is subject only too familiar to you, Paula because I remember reading your post at the time when we knew we had to get Dad diagnosed. I will check out your recommendation this week much appreciated

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  12. so sorry to hear this, my dad developed Alzheimer’s following a stroke, living in Italy made it difficult to go home often enough to see him. We are in Sicily at the moment with the parents of Mrs Sensible, her mum was diagnosed 18 months ago so we are trying to spend time with her while we can.

    we are both thinking about you
    pn

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