My father had been our family’s constant rock. While growing up, I watched him tackle three jobs every week. What little free time he had, he spent it making us laugh and taking us to the park. Looking back now, I don’t think he got more than three hours of sleep, especially when my sister and I started going to school.
Once I graduated from college and landed a stable job immediately, I asked Dad to stop working. I said, “You have already done your job; let me take care of you.” However, he insisted that doing so would weaken him, so I allowed him to keep his sorting work at the post office. It meant that my father would stay on a desk all day long; that’s why he won’t get too tired.
Dad’s daily routine had been the same for a few years after that. My sister and I would visit him every weekend, especially when Mom passed away, and he was left alone at home. We offered to take him in, but he was too independent to live with us.
Despite that, I started worrying when Dad’s neighbor and best friend called one day and expressed his concern regarding my father’s seemingly odd behavior. He uttered, “I saw your pops standing in front of his house several nights ago, just staring at the door. When I asked what’s wrong, he said he forgot where he placed the keys, but it was in his breast pocket. Then, the other day, I met him on the street, but he did not recognize me at first. It took him some moments before remembering who I was, which was super bizarre.”
I discussed the matter with my sister, and we decided to take Dad to a neurologist. Although I had an assumption about what’s possibly causing such behaviors, I kept it to myself. I hoped that not saying it out loud would prevent it from coming true. Unfortunately, after conducting some tests, it became clear to everyone that my father showed early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Pain Of Accepting My Father’s Condition
The news was not unexpected, but it was still too painful to accept. After all, Grandpa had the same illness before she died when I was young. I researched Alzheimer’s back then, and studies suggested that males had lower chances of passing down the disease than females. Hence, I thought that my dad would never need to deal with Alzheimer’s. But he was not too lucky.
Meanwhile, when Dad heard his diagnosis, he wanted to know the first thing: “Will it kill me?” When the doctor replied that it could not technically cause death, my optimistic father cheered up and assured us that we had nothing to worry about.
I wanted to protest and tell my dad to take his condition more seriously, but I stopped myself before the actual words came out of my mouth. He was brave, even though he knew that Alzheimer’s was incurable. How insensitive could I be to keep on reminding my father of that?
I tried to make Dad’s Alzheimer’s less painful to accept by:
Trying To Remember The Good Old Days
When my sister drove us back home from the doctor’s office, I was still feeling sad. However, once we entered my father’s home and saw old family pictures framed and covering an entire wall, my mood changed. We all revisited each photo and talked about what we were doing in them. It took a good hour or so before we reached the other end of the wall because there were too many stories that every image brought back.
That’s when I started seeing the possibility of handling Dad’s Alzheimer’s well. Our family made decades’ worth of memories, and a single disease could not erase them all at once. If my father’s condition progressed, and he seemed to forget more things, we could show him those pictures and help him remember the olden days. The idea of being able to do that made me feel better.
Accepting That It Can Happen To Anyone
In reality, my dad is not the only person who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Similarly, my sister and I are not the only daughters who have no choice but to watch their beloved parents deal with such an unforgiving illness. The acceptance did not happen overnight, but the more I considered that fact, the less I felt anxious.
Life is already short, and having Alzheimer’s makes it even shorter. My father has been dealing with the disease for a year now, and his condition has not improved much. Our family tries to slow down its progression by encouraging Dad to take on new hobbies that may sharpen his memory. We can only hope that our efforts will suffice to help him know us longer than expected, but if that’s impossible, we try to make the most of his remembering days.