when the words are gone

original post date: September 12, 2012 on creatingheartconnections.com

I visited my dad last week.  His dementia continues to progress and now his words are few. While he is able to dress himself, it is often with errors and he needs cues to use the proper utensil when eating. It makes me sad to see this man, my father, continue his decline.

Despite his declining abilities, he has retained his ability to communicate his basic needs, show affection, and has a great sense of humor.  I observed him ask for milk in his cereal us

Love is found here.

ing gestures. We laughed together as we watched an old western movie with Dean Martin and Joey Bishop (yes, I am dating myself). He gives full body hugs freely and often. We hold hands.

My dad wakes up in the morning with a smile. His demeanor is one of happiness. I sense that he no longer frets about the future or the past and is living totally in the present… and that life is

good.  There is a deep level of acceptance that is palpable now. It took a long time for him to reach this point though.  We had to go through several years of tears and frustration as he watched the life that he knew slip away.

Even though he feels comfortable in this new space, I find myself grieving for him … and for me.  It is difficult to see the man who I knew as an engineer, musician, and square dance caller slip away. He is still my loving father though he is no longer the one I am able to turn to for guidance. We are learning a new way of relating to one another, traveling along a path neither of us have been on before.

I suspect that I am getting a glimpse of my dad’s true self… He is love and joy.  Words are not necessary to express what is in the heart. When the words are gone all that is left is our essence… and that is his greatest gift to me. Thank you, Dad.

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2 thoughts on “when the words are gone

  1. I have been caring for my mother for more than 10 years as she progressed through her dementia, broken bones, surgeries and even into (and back out of) hospice care. Sadly, my mother never was happy person and seeing her decline into loneliness and confusion has been emotionally challenging. I still hope for the day when my mom might find peace and perhaps joy. I do believe it is possible.

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    1. I think that is perhaps the hardest part…. watching the decline over such a long period of time. My dad is otherwise very healthy and could need care for a very long time…. I also hope that there is some peace for both my dad and his wife who is the primary caregiver.

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