Saturday, November 15, 2008

One Of The Few Times I Saw My Father Cry!

I selected this image for the Alzheimer's Awareness Month poster because it reminded me of my father, head in hand after one of the phone calls.

It was simple things in the beginning. My grandmother would have what they called a panic attack. She was confused because she couldn't remember something. Her sister-in-law, Martha, had come to live with her and nurse her. Martha took her job very seriously and wore a stethoscope and carried a blood pressure cuff. She recorded everything.

Martha was constantly taking my Grandmother's blood pressure and listening to her heart. So when my Grandmother became forgetful, the calls from Martha began. Martha was frightened.

My mother was a nurse, so the telephone calls to my father were logical. "Dementia," my mother told my father. "There is nothing that can be done," she said. "We need to keep a close eye on her."

The forgetfulness escalated. The call came that my Grandmother had forgotten to dress one morning and was found wandering down the middle of the street wearing her walker and nothing more. A neighbor found her and called my father. Fortunately, my grandmother didn't remember what she had done.

The family made the decision to put her in a nursing home. It was a lovely nursing home in our small town. For a while things settled down.

Then the late night calls started. My grandmother had become combative. My father would be called to come to town and try to calm her down. Sometimes she recognized him, sometimes she didn't. When she did she begged my father to take her home, claiming that the nursing staff was beating her.

When my father came home after one of these late night trips he told my mother he was taking his mother back home. "No one is beating her," my mother told him. "I know," my father said, "but I can't take it anymore."

This disease exacts a very heavy toll on the family. It was one of the few times I saw my father cry!


Blogger Jasia said...

The pain and heartache is all too familiar. The progress from mild forgetfulness to bizarre behaviors is too familiar too. I can really identify with your father's tears. There were many times my brother and I wanted to bring my mom home from her facility as well. Tears, we shed plenty of those. It hurts to remember but thank you for sharing.

November 17, 2008 at 5:55 PM  

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