Shattered, shattered

I was feeding my father lunch the other day when a few thoughts occurred to me.
First of all, it was Ash Wednesday and I found it almost comical that the lunch that day was Boneless BBQ Pork Ribs (they looked pretty damn good, too) and he’s staying in a ‘catholic’ nursing home.
I guess there’s leniency in Lenten observance for Alzheimer patients.
No biggie.

The reversal of our roles over the past several years has been a difficult pill to swallow but one I fully expected to digest and process. But when I look into his eyes and he’s no longer there, I try and remember the last time I heard him say my name, maybe the last time he actually understood something funny I might have said and laughed.

The heartbreaking irony is that, like my mother, I’m slowly beginning to forget my father. The emotional details of him are painfully disappearing for me and I can’t save them anymore.

Picking up the pieces of two shattered lives has a profound way of re-arranging ones own life as the numerous emotional roadmaps of individuality and personality of an individual seemingly evaporate into vapid obscurity.
With every visit another subtle detail vanishes like a delicate snowflake melting on the rosy cheek of a child playing in the snow.
Sometimes it really bothers me, but today I’m ok and I don’t know why.
Doesn’t really matter, I guess.

My father is quiet as I feed him.
He still takes pleasure in the experience of eating, an activity I take for granted.
As long as he continues to eat and drink he will live, for reasons I will never be privy to; survival is an instinct I’ve yet to completely figure out.
Breathe in, breathe out, a simple thing, yet so complex.
He’s lost everything in his life that ever meant anything to him; in some ways the same goes for my sister and me as well as the people that take care of him.

It’s too painful and just plain weird for old friends to visit, my father (as they knew him) has left the planet.
I understand their thorny plight and would never hold that against them.
It’s difficult to talk to a ‘familiar’ stranger.

I know that people mean well but I have a real tough time answering the question, “How’s your father?”
I’m starting to get bitter about it and will pick up any inanimate object and say, “He’s like this. Say hi.”

I feel bad and apologize. . . but not really.

I was expecting to write myself into some kind of uplifting ending here but this is definitely not it.
I’m not sure just what to write anymore and maybe that’s a good thing, a very good thing.
And these days, I need all the good things I can get.

~m

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13 thoughts on “Shattered, shattered

  1. no real comment because i don’t think that’s what you’re looking for…but know i’m thinking of both of you…it’s the best i can do

    And that’s all I can really ask.
    Thanks, Moe.
    ~m

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  2. you don’t need an uplifting ending michael, it’s real life and none of us expect that. i pray for your father and of course for you, my friend.
    sarah

    Prayers are always welcome here.
    Thanks, SF…
    ~m

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  3. Personally, I think it’s always a better choice to end a post on an honest, heartfelt note, rather than a manufactured silver lining.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Michael, your post was very touching.

    ~Kelsey

    It’s funny. I had no intention of ending this post the way I did.
    It just sort of happened.
    ~m

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  4. My prayers are with you.

    Adversity distorts the “reality” around us, but it also crystalizes the truth. You are realizing what you are capable of.

    I think I’ve known for a while what I’m capable of but there’s still that element of self-doubt.
    I truly appreciate the comment on a post such as this.
    It is much appreciated. . . as are your prayers.
    be well,
    ~m

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  5. speaking as a nursing home department head, and nurse….your dad should have been offered fish. details and rituals become increasingly important as things progress. maybe not so much for your beloved, but for you and the people who care for him.

    speaking as a daughter, and granddaughter of a woman who suffered from a.d., you do the best you can. don’t expect anyone to really understand.

    speaking from the perspective of a potential a.d. victim, please make your own wishes known now, and support research through http://www.alz.org.

    and now, as your friend…just keep doing what you are doing. we don’t really know how much the affected person understands. i think you are a wonderful son. many many people shy away and never even come to visit because they can’t deal. you deal however you can, my friend. even if it means being sarcastic and bitter. godspeed, michael.

    Truth be told, my father hates anything that swims (not that he could tell you that now) and the home knows this.
    I took some poetic license in my post and found the BBQ ribs subtly humorous.
    My twin sister and I were adopted so as far as I know that rules out the A.D connection. (for now)
    You have given me some wonderful advice here and I thank you dearly.
    God, I have some great friends that actually give a crap about me.
    I am a very lucky soul.
    Thanks again, Y…
    CPR soon.
    ~m

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  6. M`,
    Dad is in his space. He owns it! Few can visit, but you do your best! No one can ask and/or expect anymore.

    My sister and I try to do our best and maybe he does know it.
    We can only pray he does.
    Thanks, Laho…
    ~m

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  7. You should NEVER feel the need to apologize for your feelings. Especially those brought on by losing a parent… no matter how quickly or slowly it happens. The doctors have just given my Dad a max of eighteen months to live and I refuse to tell anyone I’m sorry about the way that makes me feel. Feelings are Never wrong… They are just feelings. And a little bitterness about it is ok… I’m not sure if I’m talking about your feelings for your dad or mine now so I will go…


    I’m so sorry about your Dad, Melissa.
    And I do agree with your opinion regarding the need we feel to apologize.
    Maybe it was my stint as an altar boy (38+ years ago) that’s kept me overly gracious, I don’t know.
    I know that in my heart, I’m changing my ways.
    Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.
    ~m

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  8. “I was expecting to write myself into some kind of uplifting ending here but this is definitely not it.”

    Deep down I don’t think you were, it would be a lie and you’d know it. Have you found yourself writing more as the years go by in an attempt to record both yourself and your parents?

    Kelly

    Absolutely. The finer details have a way of vanishing unless they’re documented in some way.
    I’ve been doing that for sometime.
    And I do believe you’re right as far as the ending goes.
    It would have been a lie.
    Somethings just can’t end well, I guess. Such is life.
    ~m

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  9. I admire your honesty and strength, Michael. Dealing with aging and/or sick parents is no cake walk. It hurts and it’s scary. I hope they find a cure (or at least a way to control) Alzhiemers in the future. {{hugs}}

    Thanks, Deb.
    Thank God, I’m on the last leg of the cakewalk.
    I’ll be happy when this whole ordeal is over for my dad and he’s once again with my mom.
    I mean that in the most loving way.
    ~m

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  10. Michael,

    What a wonderful post. There’s no “uplifting ending,” but since my father died, we’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing about his kindness, whacky sense of humor, and varied interests. The period during which he was sick have kind of faded into the background. I hope that even now you can celebrate the good parts of your father’s life.

    It’s that way with the memory of my mother. We seem to remember more good than bad.
    Selective memory, I guess. Not such a bad thing after all.
    Thanks, Mona.
    ~m

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  11. Mikey Baby,
    You, like all of us, are light and dark, and all of it loveable. Thanks for expressing your truth exactly as you found it.

    Lara


    Have to say you are the first to call me Mikey Baby. 😉
    Usually someone has to buy me dinner and few drinks before I let them…
    Thanks for reading, Lara.
    I’ll have to stop by for a visit very soon.
    ~m

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  12. Thank you for sharing this piece. I just lost my grandfather and he for one was very clear until the end, he kept his wits and jokes and made us all laugh. It was hard to be sad around him.
    I just wish you the best and keep feeling what you feel and write about it, please. Love you and bear hug!

    RW-
    Writing about it is what’s saved me all these years.
    I thank you for your kind words.
    ~m

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