Monday, May 26, 2014

"That" Smile

Dad has this certain smile. I call it his "lost" smile. It's the one that means, "I have no idea what you just said, but I'm going to act as if I do."

I've been seeing it a lot lately.

Conversations these days are me repeating myself over and over again, hoping to find the right set of words that will click in his brain.

"Dad, are you warm enough?"

"What's that?"

"Are you warm enough?"

"No thanks, I'm pretty full right now."

"Dad, are you cold?"

"Yeah, it's a nice day, isn't it."

"Dad, do you want a jacket?"

"No, thanks. I'm not cold."


Other times, I get the lost smile. And then I change the conversation so that he doesn't feel frustrated or embarrassed by his difficulties.

During our visit Sunday, I told Dad that Monday was Memorial Day. I tried to get him to talk about the Marines, a favorite topic, and I got that smile. The lost smile. And part of my heart broke. His time in the USMC was a big part of his life, a big part of his sense of self. It pains me to see that growing dim.

But, these things are not unexpected. It's what Alzheimer's does. It's what makes it such an insidious disease. It erases a person't existence from the inside out.

And yet....

And yet. We did have a lovely visit Sunday. The day was beautiful, warm with a gentle breeze. I put Dad in his wheelchair and we took a stroll around the property, then sat in the shade for an hour, just being together.

Every so often he'd smile at me, a real one, and  say , "Isn't this nice?"

I could see in his eyes that he was there, connecting with the sunshine, the breeze, the smell of lilac coming from the bush around the corner. Me.

"Yes, Dad. It's wonderful."

And it was.

Happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Trains, Planes and . . . Boats?

These days it's a challenge to have a conversation with Dad as he often doesn't make sense. He knows what he wants to say, but the words just don't come out the way they are supposed to. Still, he enjoys a good conversation -- always has -- so we try to keep up as best we can. In the end, I don't think it really matters to him what we talk about. Just as long as we are there and connecting on the heart level.

And yes, it may be Spring (finally!) here in Pennsylvania, but Dad is still cold, so he wears the cap I bought him to keep his head warm. He reminds me of a lumberjack. ;)