This is my dad. With this post, I begin a journey of caring for him while my mom undergoes and recovers from hip replacement surgery.
To my great shame, I have spent only an hour or two at a time with my dad on each visit these last few years. The emotional toll of being with him as his brain has withdrawn into the mysts of Alzheimer's has been too much for me to bear and, like a coward, I have many times made a hasty retreat onto the road home to hide my tears from him and my mother.
The Lord has arranged for me an opportunity to repent of my weakness these next two weeks. Today my mother had a hip replaced. So I met her and one of my sisters early this morning at the hospital. Dad was with them and a bit confused, but I took him to his home. Fed him and watched over him today while I also did a bit of work over the Internet. I will repeat this during the week this week and next, relieved by my sister over the weekend.
I do not complain here. Caring for my dad is a blessing and a privilege, but it is nevertheless one of the hardest things I've ever faced. My mom is an absolute hero and has earned many times over the highest of praise, as has so many who have cared for a loved one with this cursed disease.
Today I began learning, only in a very small way, what my mom goes through every day with grace and aplomb that defies all explanation except through the eyes of the purest love.
In an tenderly acute way, one must learn to put a smile on one's face even as one's heart breaks. One must learn to respond with vague and positive replies to conversation that cannot be understood. One must learn to cajole and to distract gently, to offer alternatives and suggestions.
Dad is not gone entirely. He still catches rye humor sometimes. He bounces his confusion off his shoulders with a grimace and a grin. He shrugs off the oppression of thoughts which, once formed, race away faster than he can express them. And yet he can sometimes still offer the most poignant and sincere and nearly 100% coherent prayers.
No. Dad is not gone. He is mostly hidden from ours and his own view for now.
With extreme gratitude, I offer my deepest thanks to my older brother, who arrived just as I was running out of ideas of how to keep Dad from being restless and wanting to walk out into the night. He will stay with Dad at night while I sleep in the spare room. This is truly a job for two which makes my mom an even bigger hero than I've earlier stated.
Tomorrow is a new day.