the memory of Him

I realized something unsettling and bit surprising after the last visit with my father.

I’m having some difficulty in loving what’s left of him.
Don’t get me wrong, I hold his worn and trembling hands, maybe rub his back if the situation allows but inside I feel almost nothing. And it bothers me, and hurts the soul.

Everything I loved about my father was on the inside – I understand that, but in some ways, I feel hypocritical and shallow for going through motions that seemingly resemble love. But for now, I love the “memory” of him.
I used to love the way he signed his name: Walter Murphy – clear, precise, orderly; bold black hand-written lines that typified his organizational mind, his once brilliant mind.
Even when my mother would guilt him into making a tossed salad for a camp cook-out, you could tell by the way it was put together that my father had made it.
I love the fact that he was a man that loved his family passionately, though we were only shown glimpses of that paternal love.
He used to laugh so hard sometimes that tears would trickle down his cheeks, affecting my mother in such a way that she would usually pee her pants from watching him laugh. They were made for each other, I think.
Living inside a disease like Alzheimer’s has as many advantages as disadvantages; life goes on and you subconsciously forget about the pain.
But like the snow in the winter and the falling leaves of autumn, time doesn’t forget.
It taps you on the shoulder in subtle ways, maybe to help us remember what once was.
I visited Moonbeam’s blog last night and was incredibly moved by this post.
I understood its content and felt its bittersweet sorrow.

Unlike Moonbeam’s post, this one wasn’t difficult to write because it was written many years ago.
I think I’ve edited the damn thing ad nauseum. On the inside . . .
Sometimes it just takes a tap on the shoulder to put it down on paper.
Thanks for the tap, Moonbeam.
And Dad?
Maybe I’ll see you in my dreams tonight . . .


11 thoughts on “the memory of Him

  1. It’s painful to watch a person you love become a shell of their former self. I think I understand what you mean about ‘loving what’s left’. He isn’t the man you grew up loving. Take care. You and your dad. And hugs to you both.

    Thanks, Lass.
    Someday it will be a distant memory . . . someday.


  2. This was just so beautiful. I hope our fathers realized how very deeply they were loved, warts and all.

    Thanks for writing this very loving tribute. Your dad sounds like quite a man.

    As does your Dad, MBM.
    Warts and all? I’m with you . . . 😉


  3. he’s still in there michael, he’s just lost in the fog is all…and of course you keep going back…he’s your father, and he would do no less for his son…it’s what parents and children do for each other, yes?
    perhaps as you hold his hand or rub his shoulders you can conjure him as you knew him and it will help? i’ve never been in this situation so whatever advise i give is merely thoughts that enter my head as i fully comprehend the pain and helplessness you so obviously feel…
    it’s posts such as these that keep people coming back you know…it’s the raw emotion of your words….they get deep inside, touch our heart and make us think….
    you may consider yourself lucky to have had a father such as you did, but somewhere inside i hope you realise he is a lucky man to have such a son also….your mother will be looking down so proud of you my friend….indeed she will….

    I want to believe he’s in there but somedays it’s so damn hard.
    He looks more withered with every passing day but time goes on.
    It’s quite simple – I want mercy for him. Too sick for far too long.
    Thanks so much for the comment, Moe.
    I know where it came from . . .


  4. Thank you for directing me to Moonbeams blog. this disease is a terrifying thing to endure for the person and their family members. Hang in there. He realizes you are there at times and he needs that… just as you need to see him and remember the good times. (((HUGS)))

    I’ll take the hugs.
    {{{{{hugs}}}}} back . . .


  5. I cannot imagine what having an Alzheimer’s parent would be like, so my heart aches for you. It’s a disease we all dread, knowing how cruelly it takes loved ones away, but cannot really know until it happens in our family. Watching either of my parents succomb to a mind-wasting illness would be fantastically difficult because we are all so close right now. I suppose the lesson to take away would be to cherish the relationship we have together right now – trite but true, no?

    Cherish the present?
    You got me, OB.
    While they’re “here”, yes, enjoy and remember.
    Thanks for the warm comment.


  6. Your father, regardless of what he is becoming now, will forever live in your heart and soul. It is in our memories that we keep our loved ones alive and well. Always hold onto your memories and cherish them.
    Thank you for showing the world your vulnerability, your love and your heart. This is a heart wrenching post, as is Moonbeams, and I’m glad you shared them both.


    The longevity of memory . . .
    Sounds like a post, yes?
    Thanks so much, WL


  7. Your blog friend, Anonymum, sums everything up that I have in my head. Your writing, Michael, is so beautiful. Your Dad, I believe, lives on in you….as you hold his hand, remember that. He is in your girls, ‘the Murphy girls’! You will always have the special memories….cherish everyone of them. Thanks for being brave enough to share your thoughts and for putting your heartfelt words out for us to read. I’m sorry for your sadness, but happy to know you realize what you had with your parents was absolutely special! Not everyone has that! God Bless!

    You are a peach, Lynn. I mean that.
    God bless . . .
    And for Mum, she sums up alot for may people.
    Smart people read here. What can I say? :mrgreen:


  8. It’s taken a circuitous route for me to find you, Michael, but I’m certainly glad I’ve made the trip. Before Alzheimer’s leveled my Dad, I had such a terrible time with it. A grief counselor told me, in so many words, “Your dad is dead. Grieve for him. You can love this old man, but he is not your father. ” For reasons, I can’t explain, this terse advice helped me. I stopped asking what he wanted for dinner or what he wanted to watch … decisions that a daughter is used to asking her Dad. It confused and upset him. So I just started making pork chops or turning on the ballgame. The years had taught me what he liked; I didn’t need to force him to continue the role of father. By separating him from my Dad, I found I could love them both. It’s an honor to have found you.

    I’ve already sent you an email.
    I appreciate the comment here and have a feeling we’ll be trading quite a few.
    be well,


  9. I know EXACTLY how you feel, Michael. I have to believe that when we’re with him, there is the tiniest of connections, that he still FEELS- companionship, warmth, and love. And I pray that God bring all of us comfort and strength to see things through. Dad feels, Michael, and his heart remembers….

    the heart remembers . . .
    I really like that. And I agree. It’s still damn tough, though.


  10. Weird that I came across this entry today. I’m pretty new to wordpress and just wrote a post earlier to my dad. He died suddenly almost a year ago so I don’t know your exact pain but a lot of what you wrote is similar to how I feel.

    Hugs to you. This post was beautiful.

    Thanks so much.
    Hugs to you as well.


  11. Great post and it hit close to home in our household as well. My grandmother suffered from it before her death and the wonderwife’s grandfather is going through it now.

    It a tough situation, both emotionally and mentally. Your words make those who been affected feel better and those who have not take notice.

    Well done.

    That was my original intention in writing this kind of post, to help.
    Thanks for reading, Grimm.


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