Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Long Goodbye: A Sad Relief

After months of doing, on a daily basis, what would wear-out the average person in a few days, my dad has agreed that he needs full-time help caring for my mom. I knew this day would eventually come. He would be so physically and emotionally drained that even unconditional love wouldn't be able to sustain him while doing the job on his own. I just didn't know it would be today. As worried as I was for my dad's stress level, depression that caregivers often suffer, and grief, I never realized how devastated I would be when "defeat" was finally admitted. 

Alzheimer's books, support groups, web pages, and many other resources talk about how to know when to get full time help for your loved one. I literally thought something would fall out of the sky and hit my dad on the forehead. That he would wake up one day, without any doubts, and say it was time. It didn't work that way. There were nights I would call home to check in and he and mom would be cuddled in bed together watching the Gaither Vocal Band (my dad's favorite music EVER). He would be singing to her, both of them crying, and he would tell her how sad he was that their time was going by so quickly. My sister witnessed several occasions similar to this, as well. It is like grieving the loss, while still holding, hugging, kissing that person. Saying a final goodbye while they can say theirs back to you. Maybe this was his way of making his peace with his decision. To make sure she knew just how much he loved her before he relinquished his role as her sole caregiver. 

This past week it seemed as though he withdrew a little more, he left her at home each morning, whereas he usually takes her with him everywhere he goes. My sister would find her half-dressed and extremely confused. One day, my sister found my mom undressed and looking for my dad. My sister helped Mom get dressed and settled. When she walked downstairs after helping my mom, my sister found my dad sitting in the den, on the couch, staring. It was time. He called both my aunts, his sister and Mom's sister, to tell them it was time.

Sometimes I feel like we are giving up on her. She still knows us. What if she thinks we have left her and aren't coming back? What if there is a miracle breakthrough that cures Alzheimer's and upon being cured she hates us for leaving her? What if she eventually prefers the person who helps care for her more than she prefers her husband and children? Of course, my fears are human and irrational. Admitting my problem is step one, calming my fears and adopting an Eternal perspective about my mom's disease is something I am and will have to work on the rest of my life.

I posted two of my dad's favorite songs the Gaither Vocal Band songs. They make me cry.


Mindy said...

Mary Virgina, I found your blog on Linds' list and have been keeping up with it. Thus, the Rosny-sous-Bois France that you find on your visitor tracker. :) I enjoy reading your words! I'm thinking of you as your family endures the new circumstances. Also, I thought it was so stinkin' cute that Piper kept licking her hand and wiping down the little baby's hair. I think I might be a Palin fan, but it makes me a little sad to think that she would be taking on the world while her little baby grows up with Downs Syndrome. I think that's my only issue with her...Wow, this is long! Just wanted to say hey and I enjoy your blog!

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