Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Life is Heavy.

I got the call from my sister. I'm sure many, most, people have had calls like that. The call the baby died, it's cancer, there was an accident... those sort of "my life is never going to be the same" phone calls. Tragic. Tough. Terrible.

This one, a week ago, was seasoned with grace from the beginning. For me, thanks Jesus. My sister was the one to call. Level-headed and surely good in toughness. "I want you to know that your Dad, our Dad, has Alzheimer's."

We knew something wasn't right with his memory. His short-term memory has been off the last couple years. A few moments of "could it be dementia" occurred but overall, I contributed it to stress/anxiety, him dealing with his family, and loads of transitions to walk through the past few years. He was still him! So to get the call, this official diagnosis, was a blow. Because there is no cure. There are no answers, only loads of unknowns.

And it's toughness at it's best/worst. My dad, my sweet, amazing daddy, is going to lose his memory. He will most likely no longer remember me, my sister, his wife or his darling grandchildren. He may forget how to do basic tasks. His brain will know something about a toothbrush, but won't know the steps to put toothpaste on and brush his teeth. He'll know he's supposed to eat a french fry but may use a spoon to eat it. He will know he wants to say "shoe" but he'll only come up with "laces" or "foot". It's such a wacky disease. He is still functioning well (know I am saying that overly joyous here!) but we do not know how this will progress.

I'm 32, almost 33. My dad is 71. Too, too young. I am GRATEFUL for the years we have had but I want MORE. None of us knows our days. We could die in the next ten minutes. But human nature is to cling to this life, being this is what we see. But that desire for something greater, something that doesn't sting of sickness and disease and death, that tells me we were created for something more. I just hate that we are going to have to go down a hard, emotional road of saying good-bye piece by piece.

My mom's mother, my grandma Doris, had Alzheimer's. We have already been dealt this hand. It is not pleasant, this we know. My mom, oh my poor mom, has watched her mom and will now watch her husband battle their memory. It is not fair. We know life is not fair. We know. But it hurts. The reality hurts.

It must be said that my dad is wonderful. I'm sure I will gush about him over and over on here, as I grieve his memory loss. He has been a wonderful father. Loving, giving, concerned, overprotective to a fault. He is sentimental, emotional, loyal, and hilarious. But the trait I think most exemplifies him is kindness. Never, ever have I had to see my dad get angry at a waitress, be cruel to a friend or stranger, or yell at us. Never. He was a boss to quite a few people and I'm sure the majority would sing his praises. He is not perfect, of course. But my dad is just not mean, he has always recognized that people deserve respect and kindness and that is such a rarity. He is so loved by his wife, kids, grandkids and we hold him in high regard. Truly.

I cling to the lessons we've learned, that hard IS good. It's good for us to have hard, tough, terrible in life. It makes us rest in the unseen, unfamiliar next-life stuff. Our faith. That we were created for something more, something better than a disease that will destroy this life. So our lives are about to get harder and our theology is about to get more real. But I am trusting and hoping the Lord is going to overflow us with grace in this.

For now, in the days after, my family and I are focusing on Making Every Day Count. We are going to smoosh years of memories into months, days. More on that later. We are taking it one day at a time. That's all we can do, of course. But we don't want to waste the time we have with one amazing guy. I am going to plan to spend as much time in Minnesota as I can (or get my parents here as much as I can). It's working out for my aunt to take me and the kids at the end of the month for a week or so. It's about a seven hour drive, which will continue to be a tough thing for me, not being in the daily life there. I am so very ready to give him a hug, to preach to all of us and to take video/photos, naturally. He is such a good storyteller.

He has loved us well. And I will say to myself and my sister and my mom, let's love him well through this damn disease.
Cracking jokes, as always.

Here we go, another new normal for us.



Jill K said...

oh hard. so hard.

I love how you share here and how you end this post. May your loving your precious dad through this be a great ebenezer in your life.

Much love,

Nikole said...

Reading this makes me sad. As a daddy's girl, I'm not sure how well I'll deal with this as we are pretty sure it'll happen if he lives long enough. Your dad is so blessed to have a wonderful family around him.