MY FATHER'S DEATH
When we checked over my father's records, they became chaos in late 2000. This is how we
learned later that he had developed Alzheimer's disease then...he had always been such a
meticulous record keeper. I lived with him, and had not a clue then, but later, looking
back, could see hints. He stopped going hunting, fishing and golfing about that time
and just lay on the couch watching TV most of the time. I figured he was getting on in years
and had earned his retirement. In the election of 2000, when Al Gore challenged George
Bush for the elections, I went to tell him, expecting an eruption (my father was an extreme
Republican). He just shrugged and said Gore would probably win then. When he made out his
income taxes, the tax preparer said later he did not seem well. Later we found out that
he had mailed in my returns but not his...he thought more about me than himself.
I did not notice him deteriorating...it was slight day by day, and I just got used to it.
We did not go to Sea World in the summer of 2001, and I was disappointed...it was sort of
a family ritual. In December we recieved a food shipment and he did not put it in the
refrigerator...it had to be thrown out. When 9-11 happened I told him about it and he
asked if it was on TV...but I had asked the same question about the Challenger explosion,
so I was not concerned.
In 2002 he did not make out our taxes at all. I was overly dependant on him, so I had
no idea of how to do it. And I was much more concerned about him...this was totally
unlike him. I contacted some agencies for older adults, starting to suspect what
was happening, and they could not help if he refused to seek help, as he did. Finally my
aunt (and his older sister) came by. She had not seen him for a year or two and asked what
was wrong with him. Finally I tried seeing my dad through new eyes. He looked like a
concentration camp survivor. I told my aunt he had not made out our taxes yet (this was
well into May, IIRC). She is an iron maiden. She was the one person on this planet
who could intervene and get my father to do something.
She took him down to her home, and he lived there for two years. I would visit for a bit
every week but I could not stay long. It would break my heart to see him deteriorate,
and every time I would acclimate myself to his condition, he would get a little worse.
Finally he fell and had to go to a nursing home.
Alzheimer's is such an evil disease. You go two steps down and one step up, tantalizing
you with hope. And you have to diagnose by eliminating all the other possibilities first.
And the victim has no idea that he is sick. Once my father said he had no idea what
he was doing in a nursing home, that his mind was perfectly clear. And he could not vote
because he could not tell them his political affiliation...my dad, the uber-Republican.
But he said his mind was clear. Things like that made me run out crying...like the time
the radio played "Moon River". My father used to tease me because when I was little I
tried to sing that song but didn't know the words. Again I ran out crying.
By the summer of 2005 I had reached the point where I was praying for him to die. I asked
the priest to pray for my father's quick death and he looked stunned. Finally he seemed
unconscious. I made up my mind to see him one more time, and I told him to let go. He was
in the hospital near my home under hospice care by this time. I made up my mind to see him
one more time. I heard that hearing is the last thing to go, so I hoped he could hear me.
I told New Orleans had just been destroyed in a flood (Katrina) and then told him to
let go. A few days later My other aunt (who was acting as my guardian) called and asked
what I planned to do that day. I said surf the web some, go to work, maybe call the hospital
and see how dad was doing...she interrupted and said my dad had dies last night at 11:30.
Like the song, it was the 3rd of September.
DRIZZLE DRAZZLE DRUZZLE DROME
TIME FOR THIS ONE TO COME HOME