This blog was formerly dedicated in 2009 to my Dad who died of Alzheimer's in 2013. It's been three years now...and I find myself missing blogging...so I am re-inventing my blog... because, after all, life is about moving through, and going forward...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Preoccupation with Death...


Mom and I went to visit Dad last Monday morning about 11am.  Dad was still in his bed.  I asked his male caregiver for the day how much Dad weighed and he told me 131.

When we walked into Dad's room, Dad was semi-curled up in his bed, lying on his right side. He had obviously picked the scab on his upper lip skin cancer with blood all over his bed sheets and bed spread.  His upper lip looked terrible...  The melanoma on his temple is HUGE.  He keeps his right eye (with the skin cancer) shut all the time.  He has some other growths growing in between his eyelashes on both the right and the left eye now.

His hair is longer and looks nicer than all buzzed off.  He needed a shave...he kept using his tongue to feel the long hairs hanging from his white mustache and growing on his chin.  He needed a real reaming of his nostril and ear hairs too.

He was so bugged with the hair on his upper lip I borrowed some scissors from the nurses station and trimmed it for him and then noticed I had cut my finger....but he told me "it felt so much better". One of the male staff put anti-bacterial ointment and a band aid on my finger for me after I scrubbed it out with soap.

Dad was happy to see us and called Mom "Lynnie" and me "Donna".  He told us he felt great and was very happy...all the while grimacing as his hand was scratching himself under the blankets.  He was still in his nightgown.  I asked him several times to please stop scratching and picking and he told me he knew he shouldn't but he would continue to scratch because it felt so good...

Dad told me he had an eggplant on his chest which was ripe for picking.  He dug up his right then left nostril up to his second knuckle and told us sometimes he finds things in there...I asked him, "What kind of things?  An extra sock?" And he roared with laughter.  He told us everyone comes into his room to pick his nose....

Dad was very focused on the hook by his LOVE WALL where the folding chairs hang.  He was very concerned it was empty.  I told him when it is empty it means he has company (like us) sitting on the chairs....and when the chairs are hanging there, he needs some company....

Dad was also preoccupied with death and even talked about him dying and if he did it was OK because it probably would not make much difference.  Mom and I told him everyone takes their turn dying and he would be with God and Grandma and Grandpa, his sisters Jessie, Ruth and Bonnie; Uncle Russ, Helen, Connie and Anna....etc...and all his friends...and movie stars....

Dad talked of having to go up the hill to kill people.  He did not want to, but he had to.... I cut him off and explained that was during the War when he fought for our country, but that War was over and he did what he had to do and he was fine and safe now...

My explanation would appease him briefly, then he would begin again talking about the hook and death.

He told us he was afraid and scared seeing so many people die.  We were not sure if he meant in the War or at the nursing home...

(Some guy, Mom said it was the sea Captain, kept going into the wrong room next door and a woman was yelling at him to get out....Dad kept smiling as if he thought it was funny.... the male caregiver came in and told us the dementia ward was going to give HIM dementia....he had to keep going in to return the Captain to his room...)

Another woman was yelling in the hallway, obviously being unco-operative and telling someone she didn't want to....very distracting...but we managed to stay tuned into Dad.

Finally Dad's lunch arrived:  Coffee, milk, beef stroganoff, broccoli, lemon Jello with cottage cheese and cherries, custard or pudding with raisins and vanilla ice cream.  Dad's male caregiver brought Dad a small can of Ensure to drink...but by then, he was pretty full and only drank half.  He looked like he might barf, so I told Dad he was done.  He finished everything off except for that half can of Ensure.

The entire time he was eating, he held one of my fingers and continuously squeezed it.  I just returned from California yesterday so I am late getting this post published..

He told Mom how beautiful she was and how he did not have to worry about me because I was strong. He wanted to know how Mom's car was running.  He was glad it was running good because he would need a car to drive.  Mom told him gas was so expensive, she did not go out very often.

He asked how my husband Jerry was.  I told him he was in Mexico and would pick me up Tuesday.  He told me he was glad he was OK because he thought he had died....

Once again, Dad tends to hone in on one particular topic and today, unfortunately, it was the subject of death.

After he ate, his caregiver told us he would give Dad a shower, shave and get him dressed....but we knew Dad would be ready for a nap...

Some lady came in delivering mail and Dad turned to her and told her he loved her.  She turned to Mom and I then back to Dad and told him she loved him too....She seemed like she felt she had to reassure us Dad tells it to everyone. We assured her we knew Dad is a lover....

Dad raved about the staff and his two male caregivers moving so fast on the ice rink he could hardly see them because they were a blur.... ICE RINK?

Doctor-Doctor, one of Dad's favorite nurses changed her hair from blond to black but Dad still seemed to recognize her. She told us how she always sees Dad every morning and gets his breakfast and if someone else gets Dad's breakfast and Dad won't eat, she gets him to eat Mexican food...taquitoes, enchiladas, carne asada and menudo....

Mom told her she was shocked because Dad never would eat Menudo before.  She made sure to tell us how she buys the Mexican food with her own money or makes it herself. Both Mom and felt uncomfortable like she was fishing for reimbursement or a tip...

We both kissed Dad's forehead and told him to have a nice shower...Mom and I had a long list of errands to run, so we left to get to it.  Around 3:30pm, Mom told me she was wiped out so we drove back to her house.

She went in as I brought everything inside and found Mom already sound asleep on the love seat.  Mom was living with my niece but she moved out the week before I came to visit, so now Mom will have a guest room and I will not have to sleep on the couch...

I couldn't sleep on the couch even if I wanted to, because my niece took the couch with her.  Looking for a new couch was one thing on our list which we did not get to...a lot of walking involved in looking for a couch and neither Mom nor I were up to it...

I changed out the old toilet seat and replaced it with the new one we had bought.  I vacuumed the stairs, upstairs and downstairs and fixed Mom's stereo upstairs in her sewing room so she can enjoy her tunes.  I put the new batteries for the fire/carbon monoxide alarms all together so my brother could easily find them when he comes over to put them up along with making him a list of things Mom needs done.

Mom woke up around five and made us delicious cheese sandwiches, avocado salad and creamy tomato soup...oh yum....our favorite comfort food.  

The next morning when I left, I found myself hugging Mom a little longer and little tighter... I found myself emotional and teary eyed.  I love my Mother so much and feel so proud of how strong she is.



5 comments:

Linda O'Connell said...

These trips and visits, though exhausting are priceless memories. Blessings to you and yours.

Mari said...

This is a long good bye and it's so hard. You're seeing this slow decline and know what is coming. Yet, in the middle of it there are the funny times and the touching moments. I hope you know what a wonderful daughter you are.

thisisme said...

Sending hugs and blessings to you Donna.

That corgi :) said...

I think Mari said it so well in her comment above. I know it has to be so hard on you all, but I was glad to see all the wonderful changes you have with your children coming up in the upcoming months, Donna! That was all exciting news with your two daughters!!!

betty

Simone said...

Your mom has been given tons of grace and love for your dad. Thank you for your always honest posts. Your dad is wonderful and blessed.