Saturday, October 19, 2013

Laughter and Tears: The Way of Alzheimer's

Dad was his usual funny (see the earlier post) and charming self when I visited yesterday. Half way through my visit, he asked me, "What are you doing here?"

"I came to see you," I said. "I always come to see you."

"Yeah?" He smiled. "That's good to hear."

And he didn't pass up an opportunity (he never does *grin*) to have his picture taken with a pretty lady.

Dad and Lori, the Director of the home
where Dad lives.
I enjoy sharing these funny and charming moments with you. They warm my heart, and I hope they do yours, as well. But along with the good, I have to share the bad. This is, after all, an Alzheimer's journey, and I don't want anyone to forget for a moment that my Dad (and many, many others like him) is fighting a losing battle with a horrific disease.

I tell people that I'm always exhausted after a visit with my Dad. Part of the  reason is that it takes so much energy to stay focused on his speech, to try to understand him enough to have a conversation with him. Communication is a basic human need, but it's getting harder and harder for Dad to find the words and to know how to use them. But we try. God, how we try.

The saddest part is, though, that very often he is aware of how bad his speech and thinking have gotten. That seems the cruelest thing of all, and it breaks my heart.

At the end of my visit, he said, "Well, I enjoyed our talk."

Me, too, Dad. Me, too.

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Thank you for sharing this journey with us.