Saturday, May 3, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my dad's 88th birthday.  It has been a roller coaster life for him. When he was young he was in the Navy. He cleaned President Eisenhowers  ashtray when the former president traveled across the sea on the ship (The USS Baltimore) my dad was on. My dad went on to win World War II single-handedly (according to him). He often spins that tale to whoever will listen. He once told it in the VA clinic and was met by one man who yelled back "WELL I SURE AS HELL HELPED!!" Dad was a bit more careful who he regaled from that moment on.
  He had a stroke back in September of last year. It took a lot out of him. He'd had  a few mini strokes before that but fully recovered. This time his speech was a permanent reminder that he was no longer a threat to Hitlers evil empire.
  He went through the loss of his wife (my mother) 20 years ago. He had taken care of her while Alzheimers ravaged her memory and then her body.  He also cared for his own dad at the same time. His mission to care for both of his loved ones wasn't always a pretty sight and he had no business trying to carry that much weight on his shoulders but nobody could persuade him to do anything differently.  He may have conquered Germany but the burden of being with my mom and grandfather was too much for him. He had to bury his eldest son last year who died suddenly from the same heart condition I had. The loss of his eldest grandson and only great grandson from carbon monoxide poisoning was hard on him. Men from his era were never supposed to show weakness yet the refusal to take note of his emotions made those weaknesses shine like Times Square.
  Now I am the caregiver. My dad has been a burdensome task at times. He can still do a lot of things for himself but he finally had to let go of the dignity he feverishly clung to and submit to the embarrassment of adult diapers.
Dementia is a strange animal. There is no rhyme or reason to the task he can no longer perform and those he still retains. He can make his own instant coffee in the microwave yet cannot heat up the frozen pancakes that are a daily morning ritual in that same microwave although they take the same amount of time to make ready.
 His time is near. He is ready to go and has been ever since my mother passed away. This world holds no interest for him anymore.
I wish you a happy birthday Dad. I hope it was good for you.

2 comments:

Mary Alice Stevens said...

So sorry about your dad, Bill. Please remember to take care of yourself too!

David Appenzellar said...

It is such a challenge to care for a parent when you are so used to them knowing everything and trying to teach it to them. I'm lucky in that my Dad gets around and can do much, but yet he needs help to. And with me having all the medical issues I have, the challenge is daily to care for us both. I can't even begin to imagine what your days are like and the things you go through. I am glad that you have found humor to help you get through it though. And in sharing to others it also releases that energy that has to build up inside you. We will never know why God puts us through the things that he does but has to have faith that the reason is greater than the challenge at hand. I do pray that you have close friends and family that can offer their support and you aren't totally alone in dealing with your Dad and yourself. And Bill, thanks for just being you.

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