In the early days of my father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, I visited him several times a week. I picked him up every Saturday morning in my Jeep and took him to breakfast at IHOP.
Sometimes, Robert and I visited him during evenings for coffee. We’d wheel him down to the cafeteria, which he called the mess hall. There was never anyone else there, and my father would brag that the coffee was free. It was the only thing he had left to offer us. It was lukewarm, that’s what I remember, and we poured it into tiny tan plastic cups. We has conversations, but they were stilted. Still, I believed my father was safe, and so was everyone else – from his bad driving, growing forgetfulness and irrationality.
During these early days, he often asked to leave the nursing home. Help me get out of here, he’d say.
It’s been seven years. He’s stopped asking.
My father’s vacancies come by way of sorrow, not Alzheimer’s.
The other day, somebody I follow on Twitter asked if we could be one person for a day who would it be? The answer is easy. I would be my dad. That way, I could know. What, I do not know. Just. Something.
I love you, Dad. I pray, by some miracle, your days be filled with joy. It was great to hear you pray again. And, from you favorite, Paul: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Thank you for your sacrifices, for your legacy. For your life, surrendered and altered by God’s grace. It has made a difference for generations.