Monday, March 19, 2007


My father waits for the surgeon propped on pillows in a hospital bed. He looks frail in that ridiculous cotton gown, but the blue of the thing sets off his silver hair and every nurse who peeks in tells him he looks handsome and he does. He smiles at me and asks over and over if he's in Dodge City at the hospital where his sister died forty years ago. The nurse comes to take him away and I kiss the top of his head, clasp his hand in my own, whisper I love you Daddy.

I look into his eyes and see a ring of blue around them. The golden-flecked chestnut eyes I've looked at all my life, the ones I see in the mirror every day, have changed. They are nearly black, ringed in blue. It's startling, this black and blue, and disconcerting.

Those eyes have seen so much and now they're dark and closed somehow. I think maybe they're turning black and opaque to keep the memories in, like keeping the drapes closed on a winter day to hold the warm inside. A lifetime is stored behind those eyes in a brain that shrinks infinitesimally every day.

Each lost cell takes away another moment. But where do they go, these memories? How can the richness of his extraordinary life just vanish? Do the memories evaporate into the empty space where his frontal lobe used to be? Released from the wrecked cells of his brain, do they fly back out his eyes in the same way they got in? I wonder if these dark drapes covering my father's eyes will keep him with us a little longer. Him. Who he is, my daddy. Not the shell he will become.

I pray for God's will to be done with my father. And while I'm at it, I tell Him that dying with some measure of dignity, some remnant of self would be a generous gift to this precious man, to us. Please and thank you God. Please.

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Anonymous Tater said...

What a beautiful and forlorn post, Lynette. You got my tear ducts working, thought they were on perma dry setting. I know just exactly how you feel. Such a no win situation for victims of dementia, and their famlies. It is such a long grieving period, watching the course of disease just chip away, and chip away. My father is slowing dying away, and I see a little more taken from him each time I visit. You have spoken quite beautifully on loss in your post, and believe it or not, it helps me to accept and to alieviate my own. Thank you.

March 19, 2007 8:12 AM  
Blogger Beula said...

Illness and age or both seem to shroud the soul and leave the body in stark relief.

This troubled me as a young nurse and troubles me still as a middleaged writer.

Maybe the lessons of surrender at the cellular level don't need the brain?

March 19, 2007 11:42 AM  
Blogger Debra said...

Ah, those necessary losses. We're at that age where they begin to be felt almost daily. Who can prepare us for this moment and how can we respond with grace and acceptance. It seems too hard sometimes. While reading your post, I thought, way too hard. I hope that your daddy has the kind of dignified ending that befits a man who can inspire his daughter to write so beautifully. (((Hugs))) Lynette.

March 19, 2007 12:02 PM  
Blogger angelfish24 said...

I'm sorry to hear of all that you,your family and dad are going through. Dementia is a hard thing to deal with. My grandma had it too before she went. It was hard that she couldn't remember some of our family. I'm afraid now that my dad is in the beginning stages. Forgetting a lot of things in short term memory. It is so heart breaking to deal with.

He's lucky to have you by his side to help him. I'm sure that means the world to him.

March 19, 2007 2:56 PM  
Blogger Red7Eric said...

I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through, hon -- the love you feel for your dad is so evident, tho'. You're a lucky woman in the long run, despite the current tragedies.

My folks have each had health scares recently -- my dad a few years ago, and my mom just last week. They're both fine now, but it's shocking sometimes to realize how much you love these people, isn't it?

March 19, 2007 8:29 PM  
Blogger Cindy174 said...

My Dad recently was diagnosed with Alzheimer's but he has been changing for a couple of years now. It is very difficult for me but I want to spend as much time as I Can with him. There is so much going on right now I have been avoiding the reality of some of it.

March 19, 2007 9:13 PM  
Blogger TrixieBelden said...

That was such a lovely post on such a sad subject. I, too, hope your father is given the dignity he deserves as he passes out of our world. That is very little to ask and I hope your prayer is answered.

March 20, 2007 2:18 AM  
Blogger David said...

I don't know if it is too late for this, but do you have directives for his end of life care clearly discussed and written out? A major factor in providing a death with dignity is to make sure that all decision-making parties, both inside your family and outside, are on the same page about what care your father will receive when he can no longer voice his opinions. Things to consider:
Feeding tubes, assisted breathing, DNR requests, palliative care.

My thoughts are with you.

March 20, 2007 3:39 PM  
Blogger Lotuslander said...

Beautiful and heart rendering Belle. Your father is lucky to have a daughter like you. Bought tears to my eyes.

March 24, 2007 10:25 AM  

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