This is another post that I’ve been sitting on for a while because it’s so hard for me to write. In July, my dad and I took my daughter to visit my grandmother in her nursing home. Mae is 4 and had only met her once before when she was a baby and obviously has no memory of it, so she was very curious and excited to see this new grandmother. Why hadn’t she met great grandma W before? Because grandma has Alzheimer’s, possibly one of the suckiest diseases there is. It breaks my heart knowing that they will never really know each other.
Now, I could go on and on for days about how amazing my dad is, and perhaps I will in a future post, but for now I’ll just say that he and his mom are the only ones left in his family, and he goes to see her every other week without fail.
He’s got his routine down pat: He arrives as she’s finishing lunch, and he sits with her while she eats. Then he goes into the sitting room with her and talks to her some more.
Sometimes she recognizes him and sometimes she doesn’t, and her disease is far enough along that she can no longer communicate coherently. But he sits with her and holds her anyway until she starts to nod off, and then he leaves.
Anyone who has dealt with this disease before knows how difficult it is to watch someone you love slipping away. As terrible and heartbreaking as it is (and it really, really is), it’s the love and devotion that I saw between my dad and his mom that ended me. She may not always know who he is, but she looks at him with such love and such trust that it’s obvious her heart knows. And his patience and tenderness toward her are incredible. Turns out he’s not just a great dad; he’s a great son, too.