I can still picture him sitting in his chair with a big word cross puzzle in his hand. His disease would take him through many different phases with one being word cross puzzles. Another phase was numbers which would sometimes cause problems because he’d remember credit card numbers. We always had to hide things from him as if we were watching a toddler.
Being at home he could still walk around and talk, but most of the time his mind was somewhere else. “Where did it go?” I’d always ask myself. I was always worried about taking him out in public because I didn’t know what he’d do next. He started losing the sense of right from wrong.
My mom pulled all four of us aside: my brothers, sister and me. She sighed and said gently, “We are going to have to put Dad into a nursing home.” A hush went over us as we sat there silently; each of us looking at one another, waiting for one of us to say something, anything. “His illness is declining. It’ll be best for him. There will always be someone watching him so we won’t have to worry all the time.” My mom continued with her voice growing weaker and raspier trying to hold back the tears from each word. We quietly got up and departed our own ways with nothing left to hear but the sliding sound of our feet against the hardwood floor.
Every once in a while, I would go visit with my mom or my older brother. (I tried not to go with my mom to avoid getting stampeded with questions about how the visits made me feel.) With each visit you would notice something different with him and heard less from him. With each visit he got easier to find; he’d be in bed with his hands under his pillows or latched together in a tight grip. Occasionally he’d have an accident, which became more frequent by the year. It seemed as if at each visit there was less of him; he was getting more cadaverous with each one.
I learned to cherish every second you have with someone because you never know what can happen. It has made me more responsible for my things and makes me thankful for what I have. Throughout everything I think the biggest impact was it made me stronger emotionally. I’ve been through a lot, so I know I can take a lot. I couldn’t be what I am today without my dad. He was still a big part of my life even though it wasn’t the way of most fathers. He still helped me develop into who I am and I thank him for that.