Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Don't ever get old Rose

"Patient is experiencing deficiencies in cognitive abilities." That's the clinical terminology reported on the medical records.

Memory loss is another way of describing it. Although memories from the distant past are clearer than ever. It's just the new memories that have a way of slipping away. Like what you had for lunch today, if you took your medication today, or who you last spoke to on the phone.

In my dad's words, "I'm losing my mind. Don't ever get old Rose."

In an attempt to reconnect with my dad and spend quality time with him - as well as making sure my daughter has a relationship with her Grandpa - my daughter and I drive to my parents' place once a week and we spend the entire day with my dad.

Yesterday while driving home, my mind was wandering and thinking about the doctor's visit earlier that day that I had accompanied my dad to, and buying him a pill box and measuring out his daily medication for the week (into the 4 boxes for each day - morning, noon, evening, bedtime) so that he wouldn't forget and take too much or too little, and reassuring him that I would see him next Monday ("We visit you every Monday Dad, remember?") knowing that he'd surely forget and when we showed up next Monday it would be a surprise.

I got choked up. He's my dad. The man who taught me how to play ball. The man who ruled the house with an iron fist. The man who made an effort to tell me he loved me as a kid because he wanted to make sure I knew (his own father didn't tell him he loved him until he was successful and in his 40's). The man who always asked, "Do you feel better" after he had fed me (because being hungry was the worst feeling in the world). The man who was sure I would get accepted to Stanford. (I didn't, but my dad believed in me.) The man who I got my love of traveling from, being able to chat with anyone I come into contact with, and my ability to draw. Also the man who would have cut me off financially as soon as I graduated from High School if it weren't for my mom. But also the man who gave me $700 to get a set of couches for my first apartment (after my mom refused and told me I didn't need them; I could sit on the floor). This is my dad.

It feels like the clock is ticking.

My dad and I have heartfelt conversations when the baby is napping. He tells me about his wishes for after he's gone. He shares stories with me about his past and childhood. Things I never knew. Stories I've never heard before, that he's never talked about. The baby doesn't nap that often.

When the baby is awake we watch her play in the baby pool, play with the dog, go out to eat together, go to the hospital together. He enjoys the baby and I can't help but feel when I get my camera out, these will be the only memories of my father that my daughter will have. (She's only 2 years old.) My dad asks, "Did you get it?" - meaning a good photo of him with his granddaughter. I tell him, "Yes". He tell me that he hopes he lives long enough for her to remember him. I hope so too.

So as I'm driving home and my daughter is sleeping in her car seat - I have all these thoughts running through my head - I get choked up. I don't want to miss my father forever.


Anonymous said...

You probably don't even remember me but I do keep 'tabs' on you & your lovely family from time to time!

This post really touched my heart Rose. I lost my Dad in April after a long illness--I had the privelege of taking care of him his last month with us and let me tell you--although it was hard it was the most wonderful time. We had such good, heart to heart talks; laughed about the pains of being sick (I've fallen and I can't get up!) and what we thought it was like to die. I know your time with your Dad is special and especially sweet right now. You may think it's a gift for him, but it is also a gift for you too. Savor every moment.

Best wishes! Jeannie

Rose said...

Hi Jeannie,
Of course I remember you! I used to read your blog as well, and was puzzled when blogger said it had been deleted.

Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear about your dad's passing.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I quit blogging. Got up one morning and pressed "delete" and that was that.

Too many things going on at the time. Our second grandson came a month early, my nephew was leaving for Iraq, my son joined the National Guard and was preparing to be gone for 6 months, my Dad needed me...on and on.

I see you've done some more traveling and Astrid is getting so big. What a cutie she is!

Enjoy your amazing and busy life. You are surrounded by love!


Anonymous said...

Hey Rose,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Stuff about family really touches me and makes me reflect about my own family and situation. I just know that things can change so quickly so I try to live by the moment and for that day.

This is pretty off-topic, but I just realized something. It seems you take a bunch of pictures of everything and anything around you. To keep the memory? I've been largely anti-picture my whole life as I try not to think of the past, but lately that is all I can think of. Perhaps I need to document my life..