Thursday, February 15, 2007


It was his pale complexion, I think, that got to me as I turned to say goodbye. The sight of him put a knot in my throat, made me wonder if this would be the last time I would see him. My father, nearing 90, once 6' and so strong, now looking so pale and tender, bent and very thin. He was on the porch to wave goodbye as I left this afternoon, the others forced inside by the 16-degree temperature. Daddy in his short sleeves, thin slacks, dress shoes.

Even as his mind is failing, he can hold on to the fact that his baby daughter has come to see him and is leaving again. He stands on the porch in the cold with a smile on his face. He waits until I reach the street. He is so pale, his once black hair now white, the deep tan he held my entire life vanished.

We complete a ritual part of my leaving for the last 32 years. I back out of the curving drive and tap the horn, he waves and smiles and even from the street I can see the love in his eyes. His mind is sharp for a few moments and our eyes and smiles and waving hands connect over that short distance, enough for him to know that I love him absolutely. I already know he loves me back, that constant fact of my life.

He will call my sister tonight and tell her that he never hears from me, that it has been weeks since I've called. He will ask her how I am and if my life is good, how's Mike, the little dog, "oh there are two dogs now?" I try not to care, to treasure the moments I'm with him. He can be so sharp in the instant of our conversations, my visits, but has no memory from one moment to the next.

Dementia is stealing my father and there's no one to rage at, to hurt, to strangle with my bare hands and stomp into the ground. I fold up all that fury and sadness and wrap it tight and keep it put away. It sits in a tight little knot in my gut day after day, a constant reminder. I want my daddy back.

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Blogger Carol said...

Oh its such a touchy post! I am sure you will like this post of mine love you dad
tell me how it is.

lots of love

February 16, 2007 1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Belle, you're doing all you can.

Proof of what they say about the price of immortality is in every family with the very elderly.

I don't know what to do. My bad financial decisions have compounded my parents (leaf/tree, right). They are both as physically healthy as any couple can be in their late 70's. You know what that means. I'm their onlyt child, and in some respects am just learning how to take care of myself...and that's with help from my lover!

-Freddy in P'town

February 16, 2007 4:48 AM  
Blogger buddha_girl said...

That post brought me to tears. Absolutely beautiful and painful at the same time. You obviously have an amazing daddy who helped mold an amazing daughter. I hope things get easier sooner rather than later.

February 16, 2007 6:02 AM  
Blogger jodi said...

i, too, have a father w/dementia and he lives in a nursing home, on the alheizer's floor... he is old and frail and can barely walk anymore but he recognizes me (though i'm not sure for how much longer)... he is my father and i love him but haven't had a 'father figure' since i was young - this disease and depression robbed that from me... the memories that i will keep are those of laughter, riding around in his truck w/our dog, going to mcdonald's on the weekend, and watching football by the fire... i think because of this, i am more attached to my mom more than ever and thought of losing her too brings me to tears... we can only enjoy the here and now and that's what i'm going to do... :o)

February 16, 2007 7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Belle,

Thank you for sharing that, and thank you for making me cry. My 70 year old dad is going through the same paces right now, and its been devastating for my family. I called him the other day, and we talked and talked. He finally hung up after 30 minutes, and I was grateful to have had those precious lucid moments. I thought to myself, "This could be our last good conversation." I spoke to mom the next day, and told her all about our talk, and how good dad sounded. She paused a few seconds and then told me she had wondered who called. After hanging up, my father couldn't tell her it was me he was talking to; just plum forgot. He worked his whole life to care for his family. Educated himself by winning a scholarship to The Oklahoma State University football team, worked a job he hated (shoulda been an artist)to put his kids through school. Two years into retirement, Dementia or Alzheimers set in. They still aren't definite on a diagnosis. Breaks my fucking heart. We have all grown closer as a result, but it's a pity it took an illness to guide us there. I am grateful for such fine parents and siblings, forgot to mention that a few posts back.


February 16, 2007 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Travis said...



February 16, 2007 12:03 PM  
Blogger evilganome said...

Lynette, that was just beautiful. I am so sorry that this is happening to you, but I am happy for you that you have so many happy memories of your father as well. It says a lot about your father and your relationship that you can write such a heartbreaker of a story.

February 16, 2007 5:04 PM  
Blogger I'm Fat said...

I have not gone through that yet. One day I will. My grandmother has dimentia and I have to see my father go through what you are going through. I am sorry.

February 16, 2007 8:22 PM  
Blogger Red7Eric said...

I'll echo what others here have said. This is so sad, so painful -- but beautifully expressed. I've been through this with two of my grandparents, and it's just not easy -- other than my empathy, I don't have many other words of comfort. Get yourself some love today ...

February 17, 2007 8:47 AM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

I am so lucky to have my father still. He's had a series of small strokes, but largely he is still there. My mother in law slipped away much in the same way that your father is slipping silently into the void. It was heartening to see her, but so sad not to have her relate to the things she once loved.

February 17, 2007 3:59 PM  

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