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.