My father died four years before my mother. I thought I was ready, He had had a long battle with health problems, on top of his Alzheimer’s.
We knew the end was near, we were holding 24 hour vigils.
My sweet husband was doing his time and he had decided to sing to dad. We have a singing family. We sing all the time, so my husband thought nothing about breaking into song. At this point dad had not spoken in days, but now he was struggling to say something. Mr. Amazing leaned in closely to listen. Soon he asked dad, do you want me to stop singing? Dad spoke up very clearly and said…YES! lol…yep..that story still makes me giggle every time!.
Dad was in the hospital towards the end because he had fallen and had broken his hip. Now remember, mom had Alzheimer’s too. So even though I had told her that dad was in the hospital, I really saw no reason to take her to see him, until dad asked. Yep, the man that couldn’t remember anything looked at me and said…where’s mom? Mom and dad had been together since they were twelve, and now he wanted her. I had no choice but to go and get her.
I tried to prepare mom, but I knew that she had no idea what was going on. I wheeled her into his room. Neither one of them spoke. They didn’t even look at each other. Mom just sat there looking out the window. Soon she started to sing…I love you Truly…it was the song that was sung at their wedding so many years ago. I am so glad I gave them a chance to say good bye. It may not have been the good bye I imagined, but it couldn’t have been more perfect.
What I really wanted to share with you is this…I knew my father was going to die soon. If you would have asked me, I would have told you that I was ready……but I wasn’t. What no one ever told me was this. When you love someone with Alzheimer’s you lose them slowly. Day by day the person you know and love goes away. You feel sad about those changes, but what I didn’t realize was that I never grieved the loss of my dad. The man I went to when I needed him…the man I admired and loved so much. When dad died I found myself grieving two people…the man I had been caring for over the past few years, and the man that I had lost slowly over time. On top of that, I was grieving my mom and dad. I had always seen them as a unit…my parents. The ones that showed me what love truly looked like even in the midst of Alzheimer’s.
I would dream about dad and it would always be the man in the nursing home, then slowly memories of my daddy came back. Soon I could remember his words of wisdom and soon I had my dad back, in my dreams.
If you know someone about to lose their loved one with Alzheimer’s be patient with them, it may take a bit longer for them to heal.