It’s a terrible thing when your memory fails. You lose your keys, your wallet and sometimes your spouse. My parents worshiped at the altar of Jeopardy. Every evening after their dinner, they settled in for a twenty-six-minute test of random knowledge and their memory. Where did all their knowledge come from? Maybe it was the World Book Encyclopedia my dad used to sell when I was very young. We had a set at home and my father started on Volume A and finished all volumes. I on the other hand used the semi-translucent drawings of the human body to learn meaningful things as well. After all, a teenage boy’s mind wanders. Many an original piece of my homework was lifted whole cloth. Lucky for me, all my teachers used Britannica.
My father recently passed away due to complications of dementia. At first, becoming forgetful is frustrating and difficult for the person and those who are close to them. As the disease advances, you begin to accept being forgetful and are increasingly thankful for any and all assistance. Towards the end, you lose understanding of who you are and just blindly comply. My dad’s memory loss journey took several years. My mother noticed it far before any of my brothers or sisters. The last two years were sad to watch. A common condition with dementia suffers is called “sundowners’ syndrome. Your normal cycadean rhythm flips upside down. You sleep all day and are up all night. Fortunately, my father wasn’t a wanderer. At least that wasn’t much of a concern. We’ve all heard stories of sufferers leaving home and turning up someplace outside Lincoln Nebraska. If you are the primary caregiver for a terminally ill loved one, it is a physically and emotionally exhausting experience. In the last several months we did get a night nurse a few days a week. After mom had a series of heart attacks, my parents moved into an assisted living facility close to their home.
Dementia robs you first of your mind, then your body. Lastly, it takes your soul. Rest well father, we’ll meet again. But when we do, there’s a chance neither of us will know it.
So, it is with my fate in mind I write down a few stories from my checkered past. My bride, Lillian remains the stoic rock that has anchored me my whole life. Our children, Jennifer and Jason grew into wonderful adults, married loving and caring spouses and we now have two grandsons. Xander and Sebastian are sticky hoodlums for sure. I hope these stories are not too embarrassing for the guilty and provide some humor to your day.
These stories all started out true. They get truer as the years go by.