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Alzheimer’s: Why Daughters Cry in Green Bean Salad

I pray the Lord to set me free
May you never be alone like me.
— from Hank Williams Sr.

I sit with my father in the dining room at the nursing home. It is lunchtime and every table is filled with quiet people sitting in wheelchairs. Some of them look crazy. Some of them look painfully normal.

I cut my father’s food, his pressed turkey foodage, and before I can finish I have an absolute meltdown. I ask for a pair of scissors so I can trim his wiry eyebrows, which are an inch long in places. I try not to let the clippings fall into the cold green bean salad.

Who eats these anemic-looking beans, anyway? This stuff looks like absolute crap.

I cry from that place where I can’t catch my breath. I heave with hope and rise with reality, and I hold my father. His body is so warm and I wipe away his tears. I say you are a famous poet and he says he doesn’t write much anymore. I say you were a great dad and he says he wishes he’d been better. I say you were the best dad ever. I pierce my hazels right into his soul, determined that he will know it is me. I cry again on his shoulder and he puts his arms around me and he says don’t cry baby girl, and today,

Today! My father knows it is me!

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. jenX

    @DADDY FOREVER – I can’t imagine the pain of that. Well, actually, I can…

  2. Daddy Forever

    That’s a good to hear. I wish my mom knew who I was in her last couple of years of her life.

  3. jenX

    @JOHN – It does take courage to walk into that nursing home. I really hate it, but I love to see my father. Thank you for the encouragement.

    @VGSMOM/LORI – I ask myself that question a lot – which would have been easier – a fast death or a slow one. I continue to ponder my father’s purpose in life. I know there is one, but it is painful to consider the cost of that purpose he is paying now. And, don’t anyone put me in a nursing home. I’m not kidding…Bless you, Lori on this anniversary of your loss.

    @BLUE – I came across a comment you left on a post I wrote about pregnancy more than a year ago. It was so cool to see your name here today! Anyway, I’ve read your blog from time to time over the last year or more, and you’re such a beautiful, tender mother and wife. The capacity we have to love seems to always correlate to the depth of our sorrows, losses or disappointments. This seems so true about you. You deserved more, but now, your kids and husband are the benefactors of the good that came from it all. Bless you!!

  4. Blue

    okay, my bad. i’ve been reading your datestamp as “december 11, 2009″…till now it said 13/11/09 and i realize it’s doing the day first. i’m slow on the uptake like that sometimes.

    i’ve popped over to your blog too here and there and always enjoy my time here. we seem to travel in similar circles…i see you on a number of the far-flung blogs i visit, and it makes me think that whole six-degrees of separation thing is outdated with the advent of social networking and blogs. more like 3 degrees!

    thank you for your kind words. you really are a cut above Jen! ♥

  5. jenX

    @KAT – Sage advice, Kat. Enjoy every moment…

    @YOGI – I do feel luck, and always know, I could be a better daughter.

    @KENT – Thanks for sharing the journey with me, Kent. It helps to talk about it, or in this case, write about it.

    @CATS MEOW – Thank you for visiting my blog. Those words, “simply went away forever.” Dear God, that must have been painful. Thanks for sharing.

    @JAZZMASTER – I love to your name here. Thank you!

  6. John Hayes

    That’s a very moving story, & well told. It is hard to see our parents in this sort of state–my father had lost much of his cognition for the last year of his life. You’re brave to make those visits, & someday, you’ll be very glad to think how you did. But I’m sure it’s hard now.

  7. Blue

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Blue

    JenX this was so poignant. I never had a father like yours, and I will never know what it’s like to lose a parent I love like that. But reading your vividly-phrased description, I can actually forget the relationship I have with my parents, and almost pretend it was like yours. And then it hurts. Or maybe it just hurts because of what wasn’t.

    Thank you! ♥

  9. Yogi♪♪♪

    Jen, you and your Dad are so fortunate to have each other.

  10. jenX

    Glynis, I know you are. If you have pics of your walk, I’d love to post them.

  11. jazzmaster

    That gave me chills, Jen.

    Of course your Daddy knows you. Always. Somewhere.

  12. kent fischer

    and your journey continues on.

    Thanks for sharing.

    With warm thought for you and your family.

  13. glynis

    I hope you know, I’m crying with you.

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