Today is forget-me-not day. Little blue flower, emblem of The Alzheimer Society. Makes me think of my dad, diagnosed with dementia in 1985, four years after my brother died at the age of 38 from leukemia. Mom & Dad never got over Bill’s death. I remember my dad coming to my bedroom, kneeling by my bed, holding his head in-between his hands and saying “Chrissie, I think I’m going crazy.” I cannot imagine the torture when he realized he was losing it, slowly but surely. When I took Dad to the neurologist for an exam, the Dr. told me in front of him that I mustn’t let Dad drive any longer. As we left the doctor’s office, my Dad, who had never sworn in his life, looked at me and said vehemently “If that son-of-a-bitch thinks he can take my keys away from he, he has another thing coming to him.”
Dad’s condition deteriorated as Mom & I tried valiantly to care for him at home. Always a docile man, he became violent and on several occasions, I cringed thinking he might hit her or me.
A social worker I called to the house assessed Dad and put him on the A-1 list. I took Mom to see the home we were waiting for him to be placed in as soon as there would be a vacancy. Mom said the place looked nice & that Dad would enjoy the garden. That was in the fall, and I thank the Lord, God took Mom in the winter, before she had to see my father go.
In February I moved Dad to the home. On my first visits, he would see me coming, and beam to the nurses “That’s my daughter!”. As time went on he didn’t recognize me anymore. And so, I would go before work, feed him his breakfast, do his laundry to give the nurses a hand & occasionally help track down his dentures which he might have taken to another room. It broke my heart to visit because Dad who always loved nature and the wide open spaces was like a wild animal caged in that home. He walked and walked up and down the corridors with nowhere to go.
Pneumonia was the angel that took him on that February 25th twenty years ago.
But I still remember like it was yesterday and oh yes, the forget-me-nots, they remind me too.