Growing up I don’t remember spending a ton of time celebrating Father’s Day. Perhaps it’s because my parents were always “off and on” which caused me to celebrate Mother’s Day more, since we always lived with mom. Maybe it’s because by the time I was retaining stuff like that, he was already out of the house with his new wife. I don’t really know why, but it just wasn’t a big deal for me, in the same way that it was for other kids. I don’t recall buying cards, or making them for my dad, I definitely didn’t go and spend the day with him. Which is what made yesterday so difficult for me. Given my dad’s current health state, I wrestled with whether or not I should stray from tradition of not spending the day with him, or, since it was probably going to be the last one he might remember, should I go? I knew one thing for certain, I would be spending the day honoring one of the most amazing fathers I’ve ever met, Yannick. Whatever he wanted to do, or not do I was on board for. And for him, he wanted to spend his day at his home, puttering about. My decision was made.
Normally I’m content to call my dad and chat on the phone with him. But with his dementia, it’s getting harder and harder to have conversations with him. Anybody who has dealt with dementia knows exactly what I’m talking about. I find the entire thing fascinating. My dad doesn’t remember words, or how to construct sentences but he has this incredible ability to recall stats. He knew that he had watched two baseball games throughout the day. He knew what the Blue Jays wins/losses were. He could remember what the scores were, he had Chinese food for dinner, and a cake. And although he could recall all those baseball stats, and last week Monday, he directed me home to his house from my oldest brother’s work place, he couldn’t remember his favorite Chinese food dish is, or the flavor of the cake.
It is a weird reality to be living in with him. My dad was always sharp as a tack. Spending time with him watching, him struggle to find the words to express himself is heartbreaking. I find myself pulling away from him. My oldest brother is doing the opposite. He goes once a week to hang out with him, chatting, and waiting. Waiting for my day to find the responses to the questions he asks. Just being together. I spend time with my dad weekly as well, but not in a sit there with him way. I’ve decided that I will manage his health, so I take him to his medical appointments. Trying to figure out how best to navigate his new life, and to hopefully, with the assistance of a naturopath get him off some of his prescription drugs so we can get him on the drug that will help slow down the effects of his stroke, which is what gave him Vascular Dementia in the first place. But, for me it’s not easy to be with him. I do enjoy driving around with him. I have to say, that my dad has more joy in his spirit than I’ve ever known him to have. Which is interesting to see. So on the one hand I love my time with him, seeing him laugh, having him all to myself. But then on the other hand it pains my heart. I had dreams of building a beautiful relationship with him, taking trips with him. Having him come to LA every winter. I was truly looking forward to spending his final years, with our past healed, building new memories with him. Now I’ll never get the chance. I mean, I suppose we can build memories, but I’m going to be the only person who remembers them, so what’s the point in that?