Tag Archives: dad death dementia

It’s been too long

20 Jun

11:04 pm

And things have happened since the last time I posted!

For one, my father passed away on March 20. I guess I just didn’t have the words–let alone the heart or mind–to write about it then. I mean, it’s been three months now and I still feel a bit, well, confused by the new reality of, he’s not here. His long, horrifying struggle with dementia ended pretty quickly for him–unceremoniously, as it were, but I suppose that’s how it ends for everyone with dementia. One day, you’re up and about, talking, even if no one can understand what you’re saying, and the next day, you’re slurring your words and your bladder and swallowing functions start to deteriorate to the point of no return.

It really was as if–and “as if” is the key phrase, because dementia was slowly but very surely taking my dad down over the past 18 months–Dad was talking “normally” on a Friday and slurring his words and talking nonsense on Saturday. I’d say it took about two months for him to go from being somewhat coherent and able to at least engage in a relatively one-sided conversation, to getting a UTI, having his bladder function turn on him, and then, watching his ability to swallow both hard and soft foods, then finally liquids, disappear. TWO months, and he was gone.

My twin brother and I were able to fly to his bedside on the Wednesday before the Sunday he died; we spent three days with him, sitting vigil. By the time we got there, he wasn’t conversant; even still, we were able to be with him, watch him, and begin to process his death, which, um, wasn’t pretty… By Saturday afternoon, Dad was breathing very hard, trying futilely to cough up this green-colored Phlegm From Hell, which was filling his lungs beyond our control to fix or stop or clear from his airway. My brother lost it, and I barely held on. We decided to not come back that evening, and he passed the next morning. I don’t even remember now if our step-mom stayed all night or went home in the wee hours. In any case, I think it was meant to be–he didn’t want us around when he passed, I am pretty sure of it.

Even now, I think back to those few nights, checking under the sheet to see if his legs had started to show mottling, and remember being more shocked at how frail and thin his legs had become than the fact that the splotches meant imminent death. This was my DAD, big and strong and frankly, really quite overweight toward the final years of his life. How could it happen?

After the service, we had him buried at a local cemetery, next to his grandfather, whom he really loved and probably considered more of a father figure than any other man in his life. Gramps, as we called him, was a good 20 years older than Dad when he died. My dad was only 75; I can’t help but zone out once in a while these days, wondering, how did he get this dementia? Why did it take him down so fast? What could he, we, anyone have done to prevent or stop it? It’s just really hard to believe that at 48–just turned a few days ago; I feel tired, not old–my dad is already gone…?

I wish I had more to say about my dad’s passing, but I’m sure it will come. It was and is a lot to process; the whole thing was so draining over the past almost 2 years, and the whole downturn from bad to worse happened even faster, over 2 months, that it’s just hard to accept. One shocking surprise to seeing him the way we saw him on his death bed was, the forgiveness came hard and fast. I mean, 48 years of anger was just whiffed away, like the breath knocked out of me; it went easily, quietly, with no resistance. I had no idea that it would happen that way, and my brother felt it, too; for that, I am so grateful. The other good thing is, while friends who have had parents die talk about the profound shock and grief–I can say that, with dementia, there isn’t that. What I felt was profound relief when Dad finally passed; we had already lost him, as it were, 2 years ago, and we had that entire time to grieve (and writhe, and be angry) as he entered a new fresh level of dementia Hell every few months, as he descended deeper into realms that NO ONE deserves to know. We already lost him, and his death was a letting go, a release; FINALLY, he is at peace. Or, if he isn’t actually at peace, wherever he is now has GOT to be better than where he was, living inside dementia’s walls.

Fast forward three months, and we just got back from a 10-day vacation, where we hit Seattle for a few days and then went on a week-long Alaskan cruise! Wowie, SO gorgeous, quiet, and profoundly pristine up there! Of course, I had a plethora of SHIT go on, everything from a sciatica flare to severe insomnia (more severe than normal; I only got 2 hours sleep every night for 4 nights in a row! Might as well have drunk, if I’m going to feel hungover, right? Haha…not), seasickness, a stye (taking a second glaucoma–yeah, did I mention I have glaucoma?–eye drop, this one with BAK, and predictably, it gave me a stye), and, whoops, COVID! Must have gotten it maybe Tuesday (about a week ago now), but I guess it’s a “light” version because my main symptoms–nasal congestion, bodyache, and dizziness/fog brain–well, I was able to trek around Alaska while having them. Anyway, all that stuff is over and we have a lot of great memories and great pics from this adventure.

As these past few years seem to be going, things just keep piling on: We got home yesterday and this morning, we received a text from our landlord that they want to list our place, so…we have to move again!? ARGH. We’ve only been in this rental for a year! I mean, we are ready to buy, but there isn’t much of anything on the market down here (slash, anywhere). A real estate friend in Vegas told me that the market is about to crash, which would be great news if it hurried up and did so before we are forced to spend money on a place that we only half want! Anyway, I know it will work out for the best, I’m just feeling COVID-wiped and still getting my land legs back, so it all feels a bit overwhelming.

OH, and I almost forgot–as I’m sure you did, too, since I don’t write that much anymore–it was my TEN-YEAR blog anniversary on June 14! Wow; well, all I can say is, this blog has meant the world to me, more than any other writing project I’ve ever done or taken on; AND, I just want it to go on! So, thanks, everyone, for reading these past DECADE of years, for helping me get and stay sober, and for sticking with me even when I only post a few times a year! I really do promise to post more this coming year…

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