The other night I had a dream about my dad. He was youthful, and we were going to an amusement park for the day. We were smiling and talking together as we walked. My dad loves roller coasters, and especially loves to sit in the front row since he can't see very well (which scares the crap out of me). The last time we did this was probably 10-12 years ago.
In the years since, he lost his business. Then lost his big, beautiful house. Then had brain surgery. Then had a stroke during that surgery. Then suffered balance, vocal chord, and short-term memory problems that he cannot recover from. Then received a diagnosis of dementia/Alzheimer's. Then started giving the middle finger to his meds, his wife, his diabetes diet, and just about anything that would give him a better quality of life with the years he has left.
The morning I woke up from that dream about him, I stood at the kitchen sink and cried. My dad is losing his body and his mind.
How do you help someone who's suffered one load of shit after another in life, and is giving up trying anymore?
As much as I love Colorado and can't imagine living anywhere else, I'd give just about anything to be close to my dad who lives in southern California. So I'm making more frequent trips there starting this year. I've been there twice so far this year - once on my own, once with my family. If I could swing it, I'd go out there once a month for the rest of his life. I don't know how realistic that is, and it depends on whether I could stay at his house. But visits with me and my extended family seem to be the only thing that helps to pull him out of himself. What wouldn't I do to help him?
I also am determined to make sure my son knows who his grandpa is, and one day be able to tell someone who he was. I also just miss him terribly.
I guess this is the heartache of growing older. Surviving your parents and trying to serve them as they approach the bridge that we all will one day cross. If he won't pursue quality of life, then I will do what I can to enjoy it more with him.