Today I saw a video by Maria Shriver on her blog asking what could be done to shift the focus of politicians and the research community to the over 5 million afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease. What about all of those caregivers? It reminded me of last year when one of my family members was diagnosed. She was in her 90’s and really well known for her strong will and independent spirit. She lived and worked until a series of events happened. She got lost on the way home from work a couple of times. When the family went to check on her, they found the gas stove on. It was determined that she needed assisted living in order to safely function. We are thankful for the years she has had and that the family could get her help before she hurt herself, but whenever I think about her or the situation, it really makes me sad. It also makes me think about how important it is to have some kind of plan or support to deal with this. There are so many people I’ve read about and seen on our news media who are caring for children AND parents with catastrophic illness. I know the Republicans and the Tea Party would like to stick their fingers in their ears and over their eyes and forget about the very real shortcomings of our medical system, but that is not the answer. Maybe the very flawed proposition of our president is not either, but SOMETHING needs to be done. Here are a couple of videos from the Alzheimer’s Association that explain more about what Alzheimer’s is and the toll it takes.
A conversation with Dad.
I don’t talk to my Dad much on the phone, but I had been hoping I would get the opportunity to speak to him today. I had been listening to a radio program about fathers and the impact they can have on their children. My father and my relationship has been a bit stormy at times, but I really wanted to make some time to find out what he had been up to and let him know that I was glad to have him in my life. We must have had the longest conversation that we had in a long time. After last December, I don’t take too lightly the fact that I even have the opportunity to speak with him.
Sometimes kids and parents don’t talk because the kids spend a long time waiting for the parents to be there for them, to come through for them, and so many times that never happens. The thing I feel like I recently learned is that I have to do my part to ensure, to the extent that I am able, that a relationship happens. Making the first move and sometimes a second and third move until the walls between us come down. Until healing happens. Not perfection, but healing. It’s something how the reality of loss refines ones priorities. At least mine, anyway.
My husband’s father died Saturday evening. The last time he saw his son, he did his level best to act a pure ass. His son, who had left his wife in her ninth month of pregnancy on the other side of the world to come see him. To come speak to him. To maybe put together the things that had been broken between them for as long as he could remember. I don’t understand how somebody can be that cruel to his own flesh and blood when he KNOWS this is probably the last time he will see him on this earth. I guess I just have to pray harder that I appreciate my kids when the end of my life is in view.
Some of us are living our lives like tomorrow is guaranteed. Some of us treat people like kleenex. or toilet paper, knowing that the day is going to come when we won’t be on this earth anymore and our ultimate legacy will be determined by those very human beings we treated like said disposable paper products.
Having someone you interact with die really makes you take stock of things. I thought that I would write this last entry of fragile today to sort of give me some sense of closure to this situation. I hope some of this helps somebody at some point in time, because this is some mess to have to go through or to live with someone go through. I think that made sense.
My husband came back yesterday evening. We were so glad to see him. He was deflated, though, which I think is the result of dealing with his father. He hasn’t taken his condition well at all. He is really mean to everyone who is closest to him, but I’ve heard that this was par for the course when he was well. Hubby said that he was angry because he had lost all dignity. It made me think about all of the debates that have gone on in the US about “death with dignity” and all of that sort of thing. I didn’t think that the part about him losing all dignity was true, so I looked it up right quick, to be sure I was clear as to the definition of the word.
dig·ni·ty n. pl. dig·ni·ties
The quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect.
Inherent nobility and worth: the dignity of honest labor.
Poise and self-respect.
So, even though my husband’s father was unable to go to the restroom and have a bath without assistance, was he unworthy of esteem or self-respect? I didn’t think so, nor was he lacking in any of the other explanations. He may not have been the picture of poise, but I am pretty sure he still had his self-respect.
Sometimes we all need help. That doesn’t make us less worthy of esteem or respect. It only makes us human.