Tuesday with Dad

Two brothers wake up before 5 a.m. They greet one another and read scriptures. By happenstance, they're both in Alma. The older balder one goes off to work. I grab a shower before Dad wakes up, for the fourth time since he went to bed. I offer a silent prayer of gratitude that my brother took care of Dad during the night as he woke those three times.

I take a shower and catch up on some work items for a little while. Soon a light comes on in Dad's room. He's getting dressed. He has his shirt on. He has a light jacket on. He has his socks and boots on. The pants are on the bed. I help him take his boots off and put his pants on. This is a daily thing for Mom. I reflect again on her heroism.

Dad asks repeatedly, "What's going on?" I respond with a variety of short and vague answers and assure him that everything is okay. We eat breakfast. I do a little more work and then we drive to town to see Mom. Every few minutes I remind Dad that he is my dad and that we're going to see Mom, "his wife, you're my dad." He seems pleased to learn this. I explain that Mom had a hip replaced and is recovering in the hospital.

We arrive at the hospital. It is designed to make the journey to the patient's room the longest possible walk in the single story building. Dad shuffle walks and I step slowly to keep pace. We make our way down one hall and then another.

We enter Mom's room and greet her, making introductions and Dad's smiles and kisses his wife, glad to meet her today and know that he has a beautiful wife. He asks if she's getting better. She assures him that she is. We chat more and Dad decides it's time to go. We stop at the men's room on the way out, just like we did yesterday.

The day passes with more work from my Dad's house. A few phone calls and a nursing change and a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch come and go. A little more work on my computer and afternoon has rolled in. Dad is getting antsy and I ask if he'd like to go for a drive. He's eager to go. I ask him to wait a few more minutes while I finish up some work. An hour later and having repeated the "few minutes" delay several times, we drive out into the country north of Blue Bell and make our way into town in a very round about way.

We repeat our trek to Mom's room. It's a nice visit. After a while Dad is ready to go. He says goodbye and as we walk down the hall to the men's room again, he cries and I reassure him that his wife is going to be just fine. His tears are gone by the time we get to the bathroom.

We make our way home and toodle around the house, waiting for my brother to bring us dinner, cooked by his wonderful wife. Rice pilaf, green beans, pork chops. Yummy. And before we eat, I am testing my blood sugar and say, "I'll test my blood and then we can have a blessing on the food."

Dad immediately begins to pray. Miraculously his mouth is opened and he is able to express to God a beautiful plea for blessings on the food and my brother and I exchange a brief word afterward about how remarkable this is.

Now we pass the evening with one of Dad's favorite movies, Astronaut Farmer, a story of impossible dreams. The story makes no sense and yet tells us so much about what we need to know about living in a world that tells us what we can and cannot do.

Today was a good day. Hard but good.

Tomorrow is another day.

Monday with Dad

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.

Family - What is it good for?

1. Clearing the sidewalks on a snowy day.
2. Picnics in the mountains in the summer.
3. Opening presents in jammies on Christmas.
4. Borrowing tools and clothes without asking.
5. Hot cocoa and warm blankets on a cold winter night.
6. Cleaning the basement just before company comes.
7. Hugs and encouragement when hard things happen.
8. Patience and forgiveness when none can be found.
9. Safety net against the darkness of despair.
10. Incubator of exalted and eternal beings.