To My Dad:
I am writing this to you even thought I know well enough that you aren’t able to read any more and your thoughts are only getting more jumbled, morbid and hard to process. But I’m angry at you.
3 years and 29 days.
That is the amount of time it took for you to go from a respected man with a full time job in middle management to a resident at a nursing home. A man that got up in the morning, put his clothes and shoes on without struggle, drove to work without rear-ending another car, went to work and made important decisions. Yes, only 3 years and 29 days from the moment you retired to the night we had to come and take you from your bed, your things, your dog and your home. Forever. Here are some other numbers for you:
10 – Those are the number of years it’s been since you were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. That is also the same amount of time it’s been since you decided that you would only deal with your disease by throwing medication at it, even though that General Practitioner you insisted on seeing told you that your medicine had a limit and then there would be nothing else that could be done for you. 10 years of insisting that going to a specialist wasn’t necessary because you had a handle on your degenerative disease.
14- Those are the number of Carba-dopa/Levadopa pills you were taking a day when you used to call me up at work to tell me that silent puppet people were living in your house and that your mother, who passed away in 2004, was conspiring with my Mom to kill you. The maximum dosage a day for that pill is 8 because any more than that causes hallucinations.
16 – That is the average number of hours you spent in front of the TV daily after you retired because you didn’t have a plan for retirement. You essentially let yourself rot in front of Western Channel. You let your pride and embarrassment from your disability prevent you from leaving the house and attempting to enrich your life by meeting other people your own age, trying new activities and making new friends. In my eyes, you never had anything to be embarrassed about.
2 – 2 Years ago is when I really noticed the drastic decline in your cognitive function and motor skills. That is also when you started to tell me that you were depressed but when I brought up ideas of things you could do you get you out of the house, you made excuses for yourself.
18 – 18 months of my husband and I hounding you to sign up for Metro Mobility so you wouldn’t be a hazard on the road. 18 months of asking nicely and then after a while, not so nicely telling you that a senior day center would be beneficial to you and Mom. After 18 months, you and Mom told both of us to mind our own business and to quit asking. So we did.
3 – The number of times mom had to call 911 because you fell, could not get up and mom was unable to physically lift you.
4 – On December 30, 2013, this was the number of hours you were lying on the bedroom floor before my husband and I found you and after Mom called us frantic at work because you weren’t answering the phone. You fell two more times that day after Mom came home.
5 – 5:00 PM December 30, 2013. That’s when we realized that this was the day we knew it was all over. The day we saw coming years ago. The day where Dad’s disease would render him weak and helpless to the point that he could no longer be safe at home by himself while Mom worked. This is is the day we took you from your home.
4 – The amount of car accidents you were in in the last 2 years because your reflexes were deteriorating. We heard about many things after the fact, including how we found out you were driving up until the last moment because both you and Mom were keeping it secret.
3.6 – Your score on the Allen Dementia test upon arrival at the nursing home.
4.6 – The minimum score they recommend for someone fit to drive.
0 – The amount of times I’ve had a conversation with you recently were you asked me about how things were going in my life, or my sister’s life, or my husband’s life, or talked about anybody other than yourself. I took the TV out of my living room and put it in your room since the nursing home did not provide you with one, because I wanted to make you happy. All it did was make you complain about the picture quality and the remote control you that loose and accuse the staff of stealing. Your dementia has widdled your capacity for caring about others down to nothing.
6 – The amount of times that you’ve called me in the middle of the night because you can no longer tell time of day.
3 – The amount of months until my sister has her baby. A baby boy you that will only remember Grandpa from pictures and stories.
Dad, I’m angry at you because I feel cheated. I’m angry at you for cheating me out of a father at 33. I’m angry that you cheated mom out of a husband and left her a woman alone in a large house without the basic understanding of how her own fucking TV works. I’m angry that you will never know my future children. Sometimes I worry that by the time I get pregnant and give birth, that you won’t know who I am anymore.
I’m angry at you for giving up when you should have put up the fight of your life. For Christ Sake’s you were a combat soldier!! As a disabled veteran, you had so many resources at your disposal. There were exercises, both physical and mental that you could have done. Support groups you could have attended. Diets you could have tried. Counseling that you and Mom should have sought. You could still be living in your house if you would have chosen to take that help. Sadly, you chose not to and now, at 68, you are in a nursing home and will be for the rest of your life.
I’m mad at me, too, you know. I watched you deteriorate for 3 years and 29 days and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. I wish I could have made you see that there was nothing to be afraid of and that accepting help isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. I screamed. I yelled. I jumped up and down but I could not get through to you. I used every tactic I could to try to get to you to see what everyone saw coming a million miles away. All I can do at this point is promise myself that if I ever end up or a terminal or degenerative disease, I will do what ever it takes to keep myself as healthy for as long as I can for the sake of my family. I owe it to my husband and future children to do just that. And to never stop fighting.
Dad, I still love you. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be so damn angry. That’s what’s so fucked up about this situation. I thought you knew how fragile and short life was.
I’m sorry I had to take you from your home and please excuse me while I get over my anger at you. I know deep down you never intended to cheat your family out of anything and your unreasonable fears of doctor’s offices was probably the cause of some undiagnosed anxiety disorder that you tried to hide from everyone.
You’re fading fast and I’m not sure how much time I have left with you. I’ll always try to do my best to visit you as much as I can, Dad. I love you. I miss you and I hope tonight that your dreams take you back to a pleasant time in your life.
-Your Daughter Sarah