I talked with Mom last night about her visit with Dad yesterday. She sent an email telling us "it was a bad one". The majority of Mom's visits, in her estimation, are always bad. Personally, I think it is too difficult for Mom to see Dad in his current state. They had 64 years together and it is just really hard on her...
Their relationship was far from perfect, but the dynamics between Mom and Dad were custom made by the two of them. When Dad insisted she was with him at physical therapy yesterday, instead of agreeing with him, Mom challenged Dad by telling him she was not there.
Dad was agitated about "the horrible TV programs, they forced him to watch". Did he possibly see video footage of 911? Did he watch those planes slamming into the Twin Towers?? I know I did. It was all over the television yesterday. Dad is very sensitive. Even the other day, when my husband and I were visiting, Dad was agitated with a stupid sitcom on his television. He kept closing his eyes, probably trying to tune it out. Any form of negativity or put down gets an emotional reaction from Dad. That is just how he is wired.
I had tried to get one of Dad's nurses to find KCET, the public channel, so Dad could watch Hewell Howser. He does a travel & history program, where he visits various cities in California with some interesting aspect from Howser's point of view. Dad LOVES that show.
The other day, a kind nurse read my blog and offered the suggestion of dementia patients enjoying the Animal Planet. I think Dad would enjoy that program, as long as it did not show any abuse to animals. Like I said, he is very sensitive and hates any type of abuse, to man or beast.
Mom was frustrated with Dad for being so aggravated. He had used his clenched-teeth-howl, yelling, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! at the top of his voice. When Dad refuses to do something or feels threatened or back into a corner, that is his protest and his way of standing his ground. Dad was upset because Mom wasn't believing what he told her.
Mom has a very difficult time not taking what Dad says or does personally. Dad is like my 4 year old grandson. He announces every time he has to go to the bathroom, like it is an important public service announcement. I can't blame her. I cannot even imagine what it must be like for her. To know the Marine hero she married, who has now become this child-man, has to be gut wrenching. Yet, she continues to be his faithful visitor.
Each of us, as his children, have unconditional love for Dad. We each deal with it differently, but we reluctantly deal with what we must. I think it is different for spouses. Couples promise, for better or worse, only no one really thinks about how bad it could be...
Both Mom and Dad raised us to go for the gusto. We may not have had a lot of money, but we knew what we liked, and didn't like. Mom would always instruct us to write a letter of compliment or complaint and stand up for what we believe in. She taught us our opinions mattered. Dad always taught us if we were not going to do our best, there was no sense in even trying. He showed us integrity and being true to oneself, had nothing to do with money.
Mom has always been outspoken, and not a woman to hold her tongue. She has a brain and she uses it often. For over the past thirty years, since Dad retired, Mom has supported them. Most of their marriage Mom carried more than her share. I have no doubt God had her life all mapped out, knowing this difficult road she would have to travel.
Her ability to hold her own, would be sorely lacking had their roles been reversed. She would not have learned to be as strong and independent as she is. I know this disease, that is slowing claiming her husband, our Father, has to be one of her biggest challenges...