Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Marichje ea Jung - Mary's Boychild by 3MP Band Low German

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Talking To Dementia Part 5

"Hello, Papa."
Dad had the saddest look on his face.
I took his hand and held it gently. He didn't say a word, he just stared at me with a very discouraged look.
Suddenly he said with a weak voice, "I am close to dying."
I asked "Really? How do you know?"
He replied "It is time. I'm dying. There is nothing you or anyone can do."
Tears rolled down his face as he spoke ever so softly. 

This was a different Dad. Not the Dad I knew. The Dad I knew was tough and strong, and in his illness often aggressive.  This Dad was weak, fragile, and spoke far too softly.

He let me hold his hand a little bit longer than usual. 
The first words he spoke when we got there that day kept being repeated.
After a while he started to become a little anxious. He asked, "Why are you not going? They're waiting for you."
"Who's waiting, Papa?" I asked.
"The nurses and doctors. There's a lot of work to be done. They're going to operate."
"Who are they going to operate on?"
"Me. They have to operate NOW. You need to go. They're waiting."

I hadn't heard Dad speak so many sentences in actual connection to each other in a long time. 

After he wiped a few more tears and urged us to go a few more times, we did say bye to him and left. Our time was up according to the clock (man, how I hated that clock), and it was obvious, which ever way he expressed it, he'd rather be alone that day.
I walked away feeling sad.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Talking To Dementia Part 4

"Hello, Papa."
"What happened?"
"I don't know."
Dad had a big wound on his forehead above his left eye and another one right on his nose. He was scratching his head, feeling over the wounds, wondering why there was mending tape on his face.
"Are you in pain, Papa?"
"Does your head hurt?"
"Does anything else hurt?"
It is best to ask questions that require a yes or no answer. Otherwise we might not get any answer at all.
I asked Dad's wife and the nurse what had happened. 
At the time an old classmate of mine was on shift, and I knew from being there a lot that he checked on Dad frequently. Even when he was fast asleep. Between two of those frequent checks Dad must have gotten up from his bed and fallen to the floor. There was blood on the floor and on his sheets, they said. Poor Dad. He must have been dreaming.
He kept feeling over his wounds, trying to figure out what was going on. I asked him "Did you fall, Papa?" He said "I don't know."
There was a little bit of blood left on his arm. He saw it and asked "What happened?" - "Who died?"
"Nobody died, Papa. You hurt yourself."
"Do you remember?"
There wasn't much conversation after that. It was quite visible that Dad was in pain and I hated it. As if he didn't have enough to deal with. 
As usual his wife was there, holding his hand from time to time, telling him it would be okay. He trusted her and seemed relieved each time she said it. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Talking To Dementia Part 3

"Hello, Papa. I'm Synthia."
"Hello. Mhm."
"Are you doing well today?"
"That's wonderful. I'm so glad."
Dad's wife: "Let's drink some Terere (cold tea)?" 
Dad: "Yes, let's. Would you go and set some up?"
His wife: "Sure."
Meanwhile Dad was already holding the guampa (cup) in his hands. He handed it back to his wife. She held it for a bit, then gave it back to him. 
After trying a few times, he sipped it empty and handed it back to her. 
The Terere made its rounds, and sometimes Dad would drink his, sometimes he would give it back untouched. 
He would eat the snacks his wife handed him with great pleasure. She gives him snacks not only for reasons of food intake, but also that he will get thirsty and drink. Otherwise he refuses to drink.

We had been there about 20 min. when Dad turned to my sister and said quite excitedly: "Synthia wants to come." 
I couldn't help but smile. I don't know why, but I find that even in the state he's in, Dad is kind of cute. Childlike, at times, if you will.
My sister: "Yes, in fact she is already here."
Dad: "She is?"
Sister: "Yes. She's sitting right next to you."
Me: "Hi, Papa." smiling at him.
He turns to me: "Hi!"
Right then I could see it in his eyes that yes, my Papa knew I was there. My heart skipped a beat as I held back tears of joy. For just a moment I saw MY Papa. 

The so called conversation went all over the place, sometimes it made sense to us, sometimes only to him. But he seemed content that day. It was a good day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Talking To Dementia Part 2

A different day, a different Dad. Almost every day a different Dad.

We went to have terere (cold tea) with him. We took him out of his room to give him a change of scenery. We all sat in a circle. 
Dad seemed incomprehensive that day, but I still went, took his hand, made eye contact and introduced myself. 
He didn't seem to care except for a faint "Hello".

However, as soon as his wife showed up, his eyes lit up. I got up to let her sit beside him. She grabbed his hand, he turned to her, and it seemed as though everything was right with the world again. 
At least for that moment. 
It didn't last long at all, and he wondered off in his world again, the world of dementia, the world we can't enter because it exists only in his mind. 
We became strangers yet again and again his words made no sense. At least not to us.
It wasn't spoken of at the time, but some eyes were fighting back tears. Eyes who had seen so different from what they had hoped.

But hope itself was not gone. We refuse to let that go. 

We hold on. 
We keep on keeping on, for that one moment, even a glimpse of a moment, when I will see in my Father's eyes the reassurance that - 
yes, he knows who I am and he knows I am here. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Talking To Dementia Part 1

My sister (sitting down in front of my Dad, making eye contact with him): "Hello, Papa."
Dad: "Hello."
Sister: "I brought someone with me." - "Synthia is here."
Sister is moving so I can sit down in front of Dad. I take his hand, make eye contact with him and say: "Hello, Papa. I'm here."
Dad, staring at me, then turning to my sister: "It doesn't look like Synthia."
Pause. Dad looking at me again. 
Me: "I changed my hair, Papa. Do you recognize my voice?"
Silence. Dad staring at me, pulling his hand out of mine. 
I move from the chair to let my daughter sit down in front of her Opa. They make eye contact and I say: "Naomi is here, too, Papa. Do you recognize her?"
Naomi: "Hello, Opa!"
Silence. Staring.
Me: "Remember we call her Putchenut?" (Pʊt-tʃə-nʊt)
Dad: "Well, if you say it THAT way, then I know."
His first whole sentence in a while. He doesn't finish sentences anymore. Only very rarely.
The smile on my daughter's face - priceless. 
She moves to give room to my husband.
I say: "Sieghart is here as well."
Sieg: "Hello, Papa."
Dad: "Hello." 
Me: "It's Sieg. - Sieghart."
Dad: "Mhm."
Staring. Wondering. Scratching his head. Too many people in the room, perhaps.
We move back a little to give Dad some space.
At this point we're not sure if he recognized me or not. I hoped and prayed. I was told he most likely would not recognize me anymore. At the time it didn't matter. I still knew who he was. He was my Papa.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


At times pain blindsides us -
we hurt and we miss,
and we start to wonder - where is God's will?
We read of God's peace, of wholeness and joy,
but our hearts feel disturbed, broken and sad.

We miss and we mourn and we grieve and we miss,
loved ones long gone and others just now. 
The world keeps on turning, 
the cars keep on rolling,
the crowds keep on rushing,
the rain keeps on falling.
As if no one knows of the pain deep inside us,
life keeps on going - right beside us.

How many, I wonder, among all those crowds
are missing and mourning and hurting like we.
How many have buried their loved one just now,
the same day we buried you?

We try to go on, step after step,
weighed down by a broken heart.
God knows all and sees all,
and He holds us tight,
but sometimes we feel not His presence
in all this pain. 
We hold onto Him day after day,
hoping that somehow the hurt will give way
to His lasting joy, comfort and care,
knowing that you feel no more pain. 

We walk and we trust and we mourn and we miss,
we cry and we pray and we trust.
We know not God's ways but we follow Him close,
for the blessed assurance that He has you home. 
                                                                                Synthia Friesen