Tag Archives: dad

Mixed Emotions

We are coming up on 2 important anniversaries.  Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of my father’s death.  I think about him every day, and miss him more than words can say.  Fortunately, when I look back on my life, I have many special memories of our time together – riding in the car on road trips or just to his farm in Maryland, dancing to big band music at the officers’ club on a ech college gradnearby military base, moving me into my college dorm, the smile on his face when I graduated, and the hug he gave me the last time I saw him.  I am grateful for those.  They usually bring a smile to my face, albeit often with tears in my eyes at the same time.

I know I am lucky to have had him in my life for 48 years.  His life was a long, successful, happy one.  He worked hard, provided well for his family, and loved me unconditionally.  I know it is selfish to want him back, but I do.  Even with the Alzheimer’s robbing him of his memory and his intelligence, I miss his gentle smile and warm eyes.  But then I remember that several of my students over the past few years have lost fathers to cancer or heart attacks or other tragic causes, and I feel terrible for feeling so sad about my dad.  At least he got to see me grow up.  He got to know me as an adult.  And I got to know him too.  My loss isn’t easy, but it isn’t as tragic as these other men who were taken from their families, their daughters, too soon.

I know I will miss Dad every day, but I don’t want to go through the rest of my life as sad as I have been.  The problem is that I don’t know how to miss him without feeling sadness too.  I think I am afraid that if I let go of the sadness, it will feel like I don’t miss him enough.  I try to focus on the fact that he would not have wanted to go on in his condition at the end.  But it is still hard to let go and move forward.

Moving forward is what the 2nd anniversary is all about – processing inSunday will be my first wedding anniversary!  I have mixed emotions about that too. Don’t get me wrong – I am beyond thrilled to have married the love of my life!  It was a long time coming.  I am just sad that it didn’t happen years before, when my dad was still able to travel and could have been there to give me a hug and to welcome Jeanne into the family as my wife.

Recently, I have become obsessed fascinated with the idea of a medium being able to channel loved ones from the “other side”.  I am beginning to believe that the spirits of those who have passed remain with us, sort of like guardian angels, hovering over and keeping tabs on what we are doing.  The one positive thing I can hang on to about my dad passing away 3 days before our wedding is, as our Best Woman put it, that was the only way Dad could be at the wedding with us.  It isn’t quite the same thing as if he had been there in body, but I do hope that he was there in spirit – and was as happy for us as we were for ourselves.

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We buried my father yesterday

We buried my father yesterday.  It was a long, difficult, emotionally draining day.  But there were amazing moments that will stay with me for a long time.  Because the funeral home in charge was in Delaware and the funeral was in DC, we didn’t have a visitation the night before.  Instead, the immediate family received the guests at the back of the church before the service began.

St. Peter's

St. Peter’s Catholic Church

I was amazed at how many people were there – old family friends from my childhood years, who I hadn’t seen in decades.  Family and friends from all over the country – my mom and I counted 20 states and the District of Columbia were represented, if you include my cousin’s husband who lives in Minnesota but works several weeks each month in Alaska, and flew in from there.  The full list is: Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington state, Texas, Alaska, and of course DC.  My Dad’s life touched many, many people and it meant so much to me that they wanted to be there to let us know how much he meant to them.

The priest gave a very nice homily, honoring Dad.  Then my brother and my cousin both gave eulogies.  I have to say, Terry, my brother, did an amazing job.  It was heartfelt, honest, humorous, and above all was a perfect tribute to my dad.  We laughed and we cried.  I only wish he was able to give me a copy so I could share it with you.  But he spoke from his heart, not his notes.  He didn’t have any of it written down.  And it never occurred to me to grab the iphone and record it – what I would give to have it to listen to when I want to remember his description of my dad.

After Terry was finished, my cousin, Shannon, who was one of Dad’s goddaughters, shared a few stories of times she remembered with Dad – also heartfelt and touching.  We then processed out to the Navy hymn, chosen by Mom to honor Dad’s Naval service.

From the church, we processed to Arlington National Cemetery, where Dad was interred with full military honors.  If you have never been to a military funeral, I am not sure I can describe it.  The solemnity with which they conduct the entire ceremony was incredibly moving.  First, we arrived at the administration building to make sure that everyone was there before we proceeded to the actual gravesite.  Once we were ready, everyone got in their cars and we drove to what was referred to as the staging area.

caisson

photo courtesy of my niece, Cassi

We stopped, got out of the cars, and watched as they moved the casket from the hearse to the horse-drawn caisson.  We then walked behind as he was taken another couple of blocks to where the grave was.  Marching in front of the caisson was the Navy Honor Guard flight – about 30 sailors in dress uniform with bayonetted guns on their shoulders – and a band that played as we walked, as well as at the graveside.

After the family was seated, the priest said a few prayers.  We then stood for the military honors. The Naval pallbearers removed the flag and held it tight over the casket.  While they stood there, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace, 7 men shot off 3 rounds each for the 21-gun salute, and then a trumpeter played Taps.  The pallbearers folded the flag, and it was presented to my mother. The Captain who handed it to her said, “On behalf of the President, the department of the Navy and our country, we want to thank your husband for his dedication and service.”  That flag will always be a reminder of Dad’s commitment to what he felt was his patriotic duty to serve in the Navy.

I have shed a lot of tears since that night in November when mom told me he was gone.  I imagine I will shed many more in the days and weeks ahead.  But I am glad that he is no longer trapped in a body that couldn’t walk and a mind that couldn’t remember.

view of AF mem

photo courtesy of my niece, Cassi

If I didn’t know it before, after talking to family and friends this week, I know that he loved me as much as I loved him.  I also know that he will always be with me – in my heart.  And I can always go visit him, at a lovely spot right between the Pentagon and the Air Force Memorial.  What an honor!

Dad will be in my heart forever

For the last 3 years, I have known my dad was dying.  He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, which we all know is incurable and ultimately terminal.  But I had hopes that he would be around for a long time – there are stories of people living with Alzheimer’s for 10+ years.  The thing is, he probably had it for much longer and we never knew.  Or maybe we knew, but didn’t want to face it.

For a long time leading up to the diagnosis, we knew something was wrong.  He would repeat questions or forget appointments or get into fender benders that he should have been able to avoid.  He would get angry for no apparent reason – he was basically a kind, gentle man, so that was very out of character for him.  At first, I chalked it up to his work-a-holic tendencies that left him out of sorts after retirement.  He didn’t have any hobbies, so he didn’t know what to do with himself when he wasn’t working a full-time job.  But then it became clear that it was more than that.

We originally referred to it as “dementia” – which covers a whole host of disorders and can be caused by a wide variety of problems, ranging from vitamin deficiency to strokes to the dreaded Alzheimer’s.  I think the hope was that he would get better.  But he just kept getting worse.  And then the doctor said what we had all been doing our best to deny.

Mom did her best to manage with him at home, but with my brother and me each about 800-900 miles away, she had a hard time being the sole care-giver.  About 6 months after the official diagnosis, the family decided that it would be best if Dad moved into assisted living.  That was almost exactly 2 years ago.  He moved in on November 1st, 2010.  On November 4th, he fell and broke his hip. Surgery was necessary, but as we had heard, the anesthesia accelerated the dementia, and he never really got back on his feet.

His first assisted living arrangement was near me.  This eased the responsibility on Mom, but she had to travel by plane to see him – something she did about once a month for a year.  I enjoyed being able to see him frequently, though.  I would often stop by on my way home from work, sometimes just to say hi and check on him, others to actually have dinner with him and visit for a while.

At the end of that first year, she decided that she wanted him back closer to her – a decision that was very hard for me to accept, but ultimately was the right one, since his new residence was in a facility that could better care for him as his medical needs grew.  He was there about 4 months when they moved him from the assisted living memory unit to the skilled nursing floor.

I was able to visit him 4 times during the past year.  The first visit was in January – about 2 months after he moved back East.  I was discouraged for the first two days because he didn’t seem to know me, but the last day I was there, he knew exactly who I was – he even introduced me to a staff member by name and as his daughter.  The next time I saw him was in May.  I only had a couple of hours with him – I was on my way to my 30th high school reunion.  Fortunately, he was having a pretty good day that day as well.

In August of this past summer, I was able to go again – this time for several days.  He still lit up when he saw me, recognizing me as someone he knew and loved, but was confused about which family member I was.  I spent time with him during the day, and even took him to the main dining room for a couple of meals.  It was hard to see the decline, but I was glad to have some time to just be with him.

Last month, Mom was scheduled for surgery – she arranged to have it at the hospital closest to Dad and to do her rehab in the same nursing unit.  I took the week off work to be with her – something I am now incredibly glad I did.

I noticed the decline in Dad almost right away.  He was much less able to communicate – rarely talking, mumbling when he did, and dozing off frequently (if he was awake at all).  I arrived on a Saturday and stayed until Friday, seeing Dad each day except Monday, when I was at the hospital with Mom all day.  Most of the time I spent with him was in silence – he was either sleeping or unable to respond to anything I said.  Occasionally I would get a nod or even a slurred yes or no, but that was about it.

At the end of the week, I had to return home – I had a job waiting, and my mother was being cared for by the nursing staff.  My brother’s wife was due to arrive 4 days later to help out when Mom was discharged.  I had plans to fly back for Thanksgiving – which was only 4 weeks away.  When it was time to go, I stopped by Dad’s room to say goodbye, but he was sleeping.  I told him I loved him, that I would be back and to do whatever the nurses told him.

That night, the nursing staff decided he needed to go to the hospital because he was severely dehydrated and needed IV fluids.  He hadn’t eaten much all week, and had had even less to drink.  They kept him overnight, and may have kept him longer to administer more fluid, but Hurricane Sandy was due to hit within a couple of days and Mom was concerned he would get stuck at the hospital.  He was there alone, because she was less than a week out of surgery and couldn’t go with him, so she arranged to get him discharged and brought back to his room.  But we all knew that his condition was of grave concern.  So my brother decided to go out with his wife, and together they decided to fly out a couple of days early to beat the storm.

They got there Sunday, the storm hit Monday, and by Tuesday it was clear that Dad’s time was running out.  He rallied a bit that afternoon, but was unresponsive again the next day. On that Thursday, my brother texted me in the afternoon that Dad was close to passing.  His breathing was very shallow and slow, although his pulse remained strong. The doctor put him on morphine that evening, since he seemed to be in some distress.

Several days went by with little change – on Sunday, my brother and I both commented that we were surprised he was hanging on.  We knew it was just a matter of time, though.  Between him, his wife, and my mother, Dad had someone sitting with him almost all day.  From what they have told me, Dad seemed peaceful – the morphine helped him rest comfortably, so that eased my mind.  On Monday, my brother stayed with him almost all day long – he had to leave the next day, and was hopeful that Dad would pass before he had to leave.  But in his stubborn way, Dad hung on almost 2 more days.

They left the morning of Tuesday, November 6th and Dad passed Wednesday evening.  I know my brother has some guilt over that – he probably has that refrain running through his head. “If only…”  But as his wife has said, Dad was probably waiting for him to leave – he always liked to do things in his own way.  I am just disappointed that I didn’t realize how close the end was when I was there – if only…

The night that Mom called to say dad was gone was one of the worst of my life.  Even though I knew that day would come, and over the 10 days leading up to it, I had been expecting it any day, it still felt like a blow to the gut.  My dad – my hero – was gone.  Really gone.  Not just locked away in his deteriorating mind, but gone from this earth.

I have lost my dad again.  I lost him the day he was diagnosed.  I lost him the day he fell and had to have surgery.  I lost him the day he moved to Delaware.  And I lost him on November 7th at 10:30 at night.  I guess the thing I can hold on to now is that I will never lose him again – he will remain in my heart forever.

 

Where did the summer go?

This summer has been a busy one.  I took on a part time job at my church, filling in as the office admin when they had an unexpected opening.  Originally, I was just helping out until they found a replacement, but I am going to continue doing part of the job – writing the newsletter, preparing the weekly order of service and announcement bulletin, and monitoring email and voice mail – for a while.  I won’t be able to spend any time in the office, as I did this summer, because of course, I have a full-time job teaching.  In fact, I go back to work this coming week.  We start early here in the South!  But a fellow church member and I have worked out a way to share the responsibilities of the admin position, so it should all work out pretty well.

I did manage to get out of town a couple of times this summer.  For the first time in over 18 years, Jeanne and I went away for more than a weekend without seeing family members.  We usually work our trips around visiting my brother or her sisters, or they involve traveling to a neutral location WITH family members.  This time, we took a road trip that wasn’t to Wisconsin!  We saw some friends for a couple of days and then moved on to explore a new city.  We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast, visited several museums and other tourist attractions, and ate in recommended restaurants.  We were gone a total of 5 nights, but it felt longer.

5 days after getting home, I was re-packed and on my way to the airport for a trip to the east coast to visit my Dad.  I flew into a small regional airport, rented a car, and drove the hour and a half to where he is being cared for.  When we moved him there in November, he was in the secure unit for Alzheimer and dementia patients.  In March, he was moved into the Skilled Nursing unit, where he now lives.  I was able to see him for 4 days, most of which were good days, when he knew me by name.  It doesn’t hurt as much as it used to when he thinks I am someone else – usually one of his sisters, Pat.  The part that hurts is when I have to say goodbye, not knowing when I will get the chance to see him again.

It would take me at least 16-18 hours to drive from my house to Delaware, and the cost of flying just keeps going up, which makes it difficult to travel that way often.  Even flying involves changing planes and the better part of a day each way, so it’s hard to find enough time during the school year.

I definitely noticed a decline in his ability to understand his surroundings as well as to communicate.  But he still looks at the paper – I am not sure he understands what he is reading, though.  One day, he had a folded paper napkin in his pocket.  He took it out, unfolded it, and held it in two hands like a newspaper, turning it over and over like he was turning the pages of the Post.  I guess some habits will stick with him until the end!

For now, he also still smiles at me, letting me know, even if he can’t come up with my name, that I am a familiar face.  One of the activities directors even commented on the fact that he seems happier when I am there.  I certainly was happy to see him!  I even got to watch him “bowl” one day – they set up plastic pins and angle the wheelchairs so that the residents have a half-way decent chance of hitting them with the plastic ball.  Dad seemed to enjoy himself and even clapped for the other residents when they took their turns.

As my school year gets underway and I get busy with the daily tasks of teaching and coaching, I will treasure the memories I made this summer, and look forward to finding time to get back to Delaware.  I would love to see Dad “bowling” again!

While I spent time with Dad each day, I also found time to connect with some friends who were in the area.  I spent about an hour visiting a friend from high school who was vacationing with her family, and had 2 meals with friends from college who arranged to visit their vacation home that weekend, knowing I would be in town.  It was great to catch up with them!  I also made time to attend a Zumba class at a local Curves – I was going to miss both of my weekly classes, so it was good to work in some physical activity.

The last 2 weeks of my summer break from school were mostly spent out of town, which had the drawback of making the summer seem even shorter, but I wouldn’t have missed either trip.  Now to buckle down and get some planning done before the students return on Monday!  I also plan to get back to doing a better job of tracking my food and making progress with Weight Watchers.  The summer has been full of ups and downs in that part of my life and I really want to get back on track.

I had set a goal at the beginning of the summer, and have fallen a little short.  I am not going to beat myself up over that, or sabotage my efforts by giving up, though.  I am going to set a new goal, and do everything I can to reach it.  My next birthday is in about 6 weeks, so my updated goal is to lose 12 pounds by then.  I’ll keep you posted!

I know people mean well…

I know people mean well.  I am sure they want to let me know they care.  But I almost wish they wouldn’t ask how Dad is doing.  I hate not knowing how things are going on a day-to-day basis, and when they ask, it reminds me that I don’t have him close to me anymore.

Since he moved to Delaware 5 months ago, I have seen him only once and spoken to him just a handful of times.  Each time Mom calls me when she is visiting him, she tells him who is on the phone and gives it to him.  He seems to know who I am, but really has a hard time hearing me.  Often, I can’t understand him either.  It was so much easier to have conversations – as nonsensical as they were – when we were in the same place.   So my understanding of how he is doing is pretty much limited to what mom tells me.

About a month ago, Mom told me that Dad was having some issues with pressure sores, and that the residence where he was had to transfer him to the skilled nursing unit there.  The hope was that it was just temporary – until they could treat the sores – but the staff has since determined that he really needs more care than the memory unit could provide, so he has now officially moved into the nursing home part of Cadbury.

From what I understand, the sores are all healed, and he seems to be unperturbed by the move.  It still makes me sad that the disease has progressed to this point, though.  I also get angry at times – wanting to grab hold of him and find a time machine to take us back to a better time.

In a couple of weeks, I am flying to the East Coast for my high school reunion, and will be able to see Dad for a few hours the day I arrive.  I wish I had the time to spend a few days with him.  It is always a gamble as to whether he will be having a good day or a bad one, especially since I will be arriving in the afternoon and he tends to be better in the mornings.  Once school is out, I hope to get back up there (maybe in June) when I can be there for longer.

In the meantime, I thank people for asking about him, let them know he is doing OK, and that I will know more after I get to see him in person.  I hold on to the memories I have, knowing that I was lucky to have him as a dad.  And I let myself grieve, knowing that I am, slowly, losing the most important man in my life.

Unforgettable

In talking to people and reading stories about Alzheimer’s disease (AD), I am struck by how many times I hear or read that the person with AD “isn’t the person they used to be.”  So often, they are described as having a different personality – angrier, meaner, gentler… more or less than what used to be.

While Dad went through an angry period (it is my understanding that this happens as they are beginning to realize something is wrong but can’t quite put their finger on it), and was even a little bit mean at times (although never towards me), he has returned to the gentle person he always was.  As the disease progresses, I don’t see him as being a different person – he is still my Dad.  He just has a different cognitive level.

While it saddens me that he doesn’t understand the news on TV or that he “reads” the paper by flipping from above the fold to below without really “getting” what he is looking at, I still think of him as the same person.  He was always one of the smartest people I knew.  He still is – just with limited ability to process the present. He still seems concerned that I have gotten a good education, that I have a good job, that I have a car that runs, and that I am doing well.  He still offers to help, whether it is to drive me home or to do something for me while I am gone, and when I do something for him, he still graciously says thank you.

This week is going to be a hard one for me.  While we, as a family, decided to move Dad into assisted living near my house a year ago, my mother, who lives about 900 miles away from me, has decided she wants to move Dad to a location nearer to her.  I have had such a gift this past year, being able to see Dad several times a week, dropping by on my way home from work just to say hi, or spending Friday night having dinner with him and visiting in his room.  But that is about to end.  This weekend, Mom, Dad and I are flying to the East Coast and moving Dad into a new Assisted Living residence.

I am sure this place is nice – and that they will take good care of him – although I have never been there.  Mom wouldn’t settle for anything less.  But having his routine changed is going to be hard on him.  Having my routine changed will be hard on me too.  I don’t know how often I will get to see him – it is hard for me to get away unless school is on a break.  I will miss the way his face lights up when I come to see him – he is always so glad to see me!  For now, he remembers me – my name, my profession, my status as his daughter.  I just hope that whenever I do get to visit him, he will still know me and still light up when I walk in the room.  I’ll miss you, Dad.  I’ll never forget the man who considers me “Unforgettable”.

Planning a sing-a-long with Dad

I read a blog post today on Alzheimer’s Reading Room that brought back fond childhood memories of car trips to the Midwest.  My dad’s family lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but we lived in Washington, DC.  We would drive out to see them about once a year.  Mom would load up the car and we would take off after Dad got home from work that day, drive as far as Pennsylvania or Ohio, stop for the night, and get to my Aunt Pat and Uncle Ed’s place in Tomah, WI in time for dinner.

When my brother and I were little, we would ride in the back seat, and to keep us distracted from squabbling (as we were prone to do), Dad would sing.  There were some songs that became family traditions, and one of them was mentioned in that blog post I read – Shine On, Shine On Harvest Moon.  I can still hear his wonderfully deep voice in my memory.   Later, when I was old enough to help read the map, I would get to sit up front with Dad and serve as “co-pilot/navigator”.  I would pester him until he would start singing, even though he didn’t need to keep me and my brother apart any more.

The author of the blog writes about his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and that she started singing that song when she saw the full October moon – the Harvest Moon.  I decided that I would find the song, download it to iTunes, play it for Dad and see if he remembered the words!

When I started searching iTunes, it became a challenge to see if I could remember all of the songs we used to sing on those road trips.  I found 4 of them!  I still sing Barnacle Bill the Sailor – at least the chorus, which is all the words I think I ever knew.  (That is because Dad probably must have left out the “saltier” part of the song!)

A third song took me a little longer to find.  I figured out I was spelling Katy/Katie wrong!  “K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy! You’re the only G-G-G-girl that I adore!  K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy!  I’l be waiting at the K-K-K-Kitchen door!”

Another song I remember singing was actually Dad’s made-up version of H-A-double R-I-G-A-N.  He would sing “H-O-Gee-ee –A-N, H-O-G-A-N spells Hogan, Hogan.”  Even though they weren’t the original words, the song still helped instill my sense of Irish pride!

So today, when I go see him, I will have 4 songs to play.  Even if he doesn’t remember the words, I hope the music will bring a smile to his face.  It sure did to mine!

 

Not enough time in the day…

I know I shouldn’t feel guilty.  But there are days when I do.  I feel guilty that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I need to and everything I want to.  Including visiting Dad.  I wish I could go see him every day.  For a while, I tried.  But life got in the way, and it has become every other day, every third day, sometimes just once or twice a week.  I know in my head that he is being well-taken care of.  The staff at his Assisted Living residence is wonderful.  They all adore him (of course – everyone does!).  When I do go by, even if it is just for a quick 15 minute visit, he always seems to glad to see me.  I know that he doesn’t really have a sense of how much time has passed, but it breaks my heart when I haven’t been there for a few days and he says “I haven’t seen you in a while”.  In my head, I know he says that even when I was just there the day before, but in my heart, my guilt over how little time I can spend with him sometimes makes me feel like I am not doing my job.

But then I remember that I am grateful for the time I do get to spend with him.  I am grateful that he is here and not 1000 miles away on the East Coast.  I am grateful that I know how important it is for me to get there as often as I do, and I realize that I am doing what I can and should not feel guilty for having other responsibilities as well.  If he was located more than 20 minutes from my house or from my work, it would be so much harder to get to see him, even once or twice a week.  So I give myself an emotional break. I shake off the guilt and let it be OK that I didn’t get there yesterday.  And probably won’t get there tomorrow.  But today, I plan to go have dinner with him and enjoy the time we have.  I am glad I can make the time today.

Hero of Mine

Larger than life, hero of mine
Working hard to provide
 
Family man, father of two
Lawyer by day, farmer too
 
Quiet, smart, humor so dry
Believing in me, as long as I try
 
Pushing hard, wants the best
Proud of me, no need to guess
 
Smiles so big, arms so strong
Cross country trips, filled with song
 
Love of family a driving force
Slow and steady was his course
 
Didn’t slow down til dementia set in
Battling Alzheimer’s, the disease will win
 
His memories fade, mine are stored
Hero of mine, deserves an award!
 
 

Dealing with loss

This has been a rough school year.  It began last fall with a young girl, a friend of many of my students from another school, dying in a car accident.  This spring, one of my students was seriously injured in another accident.  And in between that have been many losses for the people around me.

Just since January, six fathers have died.  Two friends from high school lost theirs – one dad had Alzheimer’s, the other had Parkinson’s.  Another friend from Memphis and two students all had dads who suffered sudden heart attacks.  I was at a friend’s house recently when her neighbor came over to say her ex-husband (her kids’ father) had committed suicide.

I know I am hyper-aware of people’s dads right now, since I am so worried about my own, but it still seems like I am being surrounded by the death of fathers.  Each one makes my heart hurt a little more – each one is like a preview of that moment when it will be my father.  While I hate to think about that day – I can only hope it is far into the future – I am grateful that I have had my dad for as long as I have.  My heart breaks most for my students, who both lost fathers much too young.

Dad has been there for most of life’s milestones – my high school graduation, my college graduation, the purchase of my first home.  My biggest disappointment is that by the time I am allowed to marry the woman I love (and I believe that day is coming), he won’t be able to walk me down the aisle.

This past week, I have visited several residential programs in my area geared towards memory care for Alzheimer’s patients.  My mother has looked at several more, closer to where they live.  Each one had pros and cons, but I am beginning to realize that he is going to need to move into one of them sooner rather than later.  His grasp of present reality is slipping more and more each day.  He still seems to know me most of the time – he remembers that I teach school and asks me all the time how that is going.  But he doesn’t remember that my brother is married with three children or that his five siblings have all died.

Most days, he doesn’t understand that he is in his own apartment – he often asks when he will be leaving to go back home.  One of my concerns about placing him in a care facility is that if he isn’t comfortable in his own home, surrounded by familiar things, how will he ever feel secure in a new environment?  Because I will worry about him, I really want him to be somewhere close enough that I can stop in to see him several times a week – I like to think it would be to reassure him, but I know it will really be to reassure myself!

This decision isn’t an easy one for my family.  We have to consider what will be best for Dad as well as what makes the most sense for all of us.  I’m just not sure what that will entail.  When we figure it out, I’ll let you know!