Heartbreak

Here.  You may need this.  (Google Image)

Here, take this. You may need it. (Google Image)

It was always the same.  Mom and Dad.  The kids.  They were a unit, Mom-and-Dad.

I’ve written before of my parents and the great love I was privileged to come from.  Here.  And Here.  But I haven’t told you that it all ended up in heartbreak.  My Dad’s.  Poor Dad.

Whenever I think back to our home growing up, Mom and Dad were together.  The end of the day would find them doing dishes together, and then they’d sit at the kitchen table and talk, smoke cigarettes, and laugh.  In the summer, they’d relocate to the front porch, where they’d laugh.   The sound of their voices, their laughter is as much the sound of my childhood as the train running by the house.

After they retired and moved to Florida, Mom started having health problems.  She’d always had some; she’d contracted polio in the late 40s and got emphysema from smoking.  But in the mid-1990s, Mom had a series of strokes.

Still, she never let it dampen her sense of humor.

“My dog,” she said to me during our daily 10 a.m. call, “is no help at all.”

“What do you mean, Mom?”

“Yesterday, I needed C.K. to be Lassie. He wasn’t,” she giggled.

Huh?

C.K. was Mom and Dad’s golden retriever. He was sweet as are all goldens, but had no rescue training that I knew of. So I didn’t get the connection to Lassie.

“Well, yesterday when I fell and was lying on my back on the patio unable to get up, I told C.K. to …”  her own laughter had interrupted her.

“When you were WHAT?”

“Well you see …” Mom went on to laughingly explain that it had been raining in her part of Florida for days. Finally, shortly after we’d talked the day before, the sun came out. And Mom decided to go outside with CK and sit in the sun.

Google Image (Thank God there was nopool)

Google Image (Thank God there was no pool)

“I thought I’d warm my bones a bit. But the gods were agin’ me” she said, laughing harder.

I was not catching on.

“Well, I climbed onto a chaise lounge and lifted my face to the sun. But things didn’t work out the way I planned.” She was now having trouble telling the story, she was laughing so hard. “I nestled back, and wouldn’t you know it, the damn chaise lounge collapsed!”

“What?” I said. “Are you OK? Did you break anything? Are you hurt?” I got that helpless feeling you get when you are hundreds of miles away and can do absolutely nothing.

“I lay there on my back until Dad got home at lunch time. I couldn’t get up. And all the while I was laughing and saying to C.K., ‘Why aren’t you Lassie? Why don’t you go get help? What good are you?’ But all C.K. would do was lick my face. It didn’t help – his breath was awful.”

Dad gave up his morning job that day.  And it began several years of loving caretaking, with admirable assists from my sister Judy and my brother Bob.

“I thought for sure I’d lost her,” Dad confessed to me a few days later. “I got home and she was nowhere to be found. I looked all over the [small] house, expecting to find her on the floor. I DIDN’T expect to find her on the ground outside – she never goes there!”

My Dad was a very imperfect man. He had a temper and a sarcastic streak.  But he had an incredible soft spot for Mom. He fell in love with her in the 1940s and never stopped loving her. They were inseparable.

When I think of their later years, I remember one time in particular, during a family vacation in a beach condo in Florida. During hurricane season. The winds were blowing and we were all watching the wind out on the Gulf of Mexico, out of the plate glass storm doors.

Somehow, Mom had an accident. In her pants. She pooped. In front of her whole family.  Poor Mom was mortified.

It was possibly the one time she didn’t laugh at something awful that had happened to her. Instead, tears welled up in her eyes, and she headed back, head down in humiliation, to the bedroom she shared with Dad.

Nobody else knew what had happened. But Dad sensed that something was terribly wrong, and headed back to see what he could do.

Dad turned on the tap in the bathtub, and helped Mom undress. He got her into the tub. He cleaned her tenderly, and then took her soiled clothes out to the washer and started it up. He grabbed two beers out of the fridge and then went back to Mom. He sat on the toilet keeping her company, washing her back, telling her jokes and stories.  Bringing back her laugh.

The two of them spent the rest of the evening together in their room. The rest of us could hear them laughing all evening.

That’s love.

Fast forward to 1995, and Mom really was failing. After the incident with the chaise lounge, Dad stopped working, or he worked from home. He was fortunate that my sister and brother, Judy and Bob, lived nearby and could and did help. A lot. But Dad was Mom’s caretaker. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

All five of us visited in 1995, and then again in 1996 for Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary; we hadn’t expected Mom to make it. But she did. At the celebration, Mom was still somewhat aware of what was going on around her, but not always, and not often. That was October 1996.

Dad, Judy and Bob continued to care for Mom at home. She had more small strokes, but still her sweetness lingered. Still, Dad knew he was, as he said, fighting a loosing battle.  Dad was exhausted, demoralized. He hired some outside help, but even combining resources we couldn’t afford much. But for Dad, it was a labor of love.

My 10 a.m. phone calls continued. Sometimes Mom was receptive, sometimes not. My long-distance job became keeping Dad’s spirits up as much as Mom’s.

One day in early February, though, I heard a shrill voice shouting in the background when Dad answered my call. I had heard a voice like that during my first hospitalization for colitis in 1974 — a woman who was suffering dementia.  The voice that had so terrified me when I was in the hospital at 17. An old woman who’d lost her mind, whose bed was moved into the hall so she didn’t disturb anybody (except she disturbed everybody).  A woman whose voice I still hear in nightmares.

Only this time, that horrible voice was my mother’s.  My sweet mother was possessed by the devil.

You’re trying to kill me so you can have my things. Mother! Help me!

That was my Mom shouting in the background. My sweet Mom. Yelling. Screaming. Terrified.  Lashing out.

You want my stuff. You never loved me.

“Lease, she won’t stop yelling,” Dad said, with a voice filled with hurt. “What have I done?”

I should have listened to my mother. She told me not to marry you. That you only wanted my things.

Dad explained that Mom had started shouting at him in the middle of the night. She hadn’t stopped. She hadn’t rested since about 3 a.m.  Neither had he.

“Lord, I’m tired, Lease,” he said gently, quietly.

“Let me try, Dad,” I said. “I’ll cheer her up.”  I could always make her laugh.  She was an easy audience.

But I didn’t. I couldn’t. She shouted at me, too.

Till Death, they say. That’s what he’s waiting for.   MY Death. Then he’ll have all my stuff.

“But Mom, everything you have is Dad’s too. And what he has is yours. That’s the way it works.”

No. He wants my things. He wants me to die.

 “No, Mom. Dad is right there, helping you. Come on, Mom. Everything is going to be OK.”

But I lied. Of course it wasn’t going to be.

We all tried, Dad most of all, to bring back the real Mom. But she seemed to be gone. Replaced with an abusive Banshee, who was nasty to all of us, but saved her sharpest spears for Dad.

Two days passed. Three. Then a week. Stupidly, we waited for it to pass. The five of us kids did what we could – but Judy and Bob bore the task of really helping Dad. They were there.  Fred and I weren’t.

Ten days passed with no let up. Mom’s doctor told Dad that the only thing for him to do was to put Mom in a nursing home. Dad was determined not to. Adamant. No.

For a dozen days, Dad’s heart was torn out with each word Mom spoke. She was accusing him, always. Of not loving her. Of wanting her things. Of having married her for her stuff.  and worst of all, of wanting her to die.

He knew that it wasn’t Mom speaking. Dementia was shouting at him. Not Mom.  But it didn’t help the hurt.

For two weeks Dad was assaulted, constantly.  The five of us all thought that the time had come. That Dad needed to have Mom go to a nursing home, at least for a short while, or it would kill him.  It was killing him, with each word she stabbed at him.  We suggested it short term, at least to let him catch his breath. He knew we were right, but still.  He couldn’t do it.  In sickness and in health.  Till Death.

Mother! He only wants my things! He wants me to die! Mother!

Mom shouted from her recliner in the Family Room.  From her bed in the night.  From her wheelchair.  From the bathroom.

After two weeks, Dad, exhausted, sat at the dining room table, with his head in his hands, knowing that he had to make a terrible decision. That he had to put Mom, his Doris, the love of his life, into a nursing home.  That she was going to die, and it would kill him, too.

“I held my head in my hands, and looked down at the floor,” Dad said. “I was so tired. So hurt, even though I knew it wasn’t really her yelling at me. Screaming those horrible things. Not stopping – accusing me of wanting her to die.”

You never loved me.

“I couldn’t take it any more, Lease,” he said. “I lifted my head, turned towards her and said ‘Would you please be quiet for a little while and give me some peace?’ Her eyes widened, then her mouth slumped and she stopped. She stopped yelling at me!  The relief was overwhelming,” he said, weeping.

I already knew what had happened. All I wanted was to be with Dad at that point. I was still so far away.

“At first, the peace was just such a relief,” he said, with a mountain of grief in his voice. “But I realized within a minute or two what had happened. Another stroke.”

Mom paralyzed by this, more powerful stroke, was never able to speak again.

Dad was broken-hearted for as long as he lived – because he’d silenced her.  Because he spoke to her harshly, out of patience.  Out of exhaustion.  Out of hurt.  Mom died a month or so after she went to live in a nursing home. Dad stayed by her side, all day, every day. Holding her hand, talking with her, wishing she would speak to him, laugh with him, just one more time.

Judy Holliday’s voice is very similar to my Mom’s.  Listening, I can hear her, clinking dishes and laughing with Dad.

*     *    *

Mom suffered from dementia at the end of her life — that’s what turned her from being a sweet woman into a Banshee.  That is what broke my Dad’s heart.  It is a disease that has broken many hearts and will continue to do so as our population ages.

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.

108 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Dad, Family, Good Deed Doers, Health, Health and Medicine, History, Illness, laughter, Love, Mental Health, Mom, Peace

108 responses to “Heartbreak

  1. Elyse,

    What a wrenching story — the guilt your father must have felt tears at the heart, the decline of your mother: wrenching. Yet, the story of love is wrenching too. It’s easy to stay in love for the “better and richer” part … the “poorer, sickness” part is what breaks so many marriages. And dementia (in all its variety of forms) is about as tough as it gets. It’s a cruel disease.

    As you can see, I’m quite behind on my blog reading, but I have to say that reading this post is more timely than you know. It hits close to home for me. The tears your story brought out of me were much needed …

    Thank you for sharing this story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, John. This story gets me too. Poor Dad loved her so much, and yes, the guilt was crushing. Intellectually he knew he hadn’t caused it, but his heart wouldn’t let him believe.

      I, too, am behind on my reading. But I am never offended if you skip posts. Seriously, it’s not a problem.

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  2. This is heartbreaking, Elyse. What a terrible disease that steals who you are from the ones you love. The timing of her last stroke was particularly cruel and ironic–oh, your poor dad. But it’s important to raise awareness of this disease. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    • Thanks, Naomi. It was so sad. Dad didn’t deserve it. Hope you are doing ok.

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      • Your poor dad, and your poor mom, too, who also didn’t deserve it either. I have heard that they are on the verge of curing for Alzheimers–they can not only stop it in mice, but reverse the effects. I hope the promise is fulfilled for humans as well, and that it can prevent the kind of suffering your folks had to endure, Elyse. I love the sweet image of them laughing and talking together at the table. I hope that is the predominant one in your heart and memories, as it seems to have been the predominant sentiment between them for most of their life together, until the disease took over.

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  3. Hi!! I love your blog so much that I nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Award! For info see my blog, and thank you for some great reads!!

    (https://summeroffunlist.wordpress.com/)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elyse – This is a beautiful love story and it’s written by a loving daughter with just the right touch. I wanted to leave a comment the same day I left my like but for whatever reason, my iPad didn’t want to cooperate. I saw this love with my own father feeding my mother ice chips so her kidneys wouldn’t shut down after she’d had yet another open heart surgery. No one could get him to leave her side. He was convinced none of us knew how to do the ice chips just right. She had 4 open heart surgeries before she died. With the last one, the surgeon told Dad he was discharging Mom to home because that’s where she wanted to go. Mom lived another year doing those things she loved best. Taking care of grandchildren, gardening, cooking and most of all – loving my dad.
    Thank you for sharing this very personal story with us. It is indeed awe inspiring and a reminder, especially for us caregivers to those we love and cherish, that no matter the pathway we are currently travelling, others have gone before and their love never once gave away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure your own history gives you what you need to do what you’re doing, Sherri I guess we never know where life will take us — good or bad! Sometimes there’s good with the bad.

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  5. I’m really sorry that you and your family had to go through this. Although I have been spared its ravages so far in my own, I have witnessed it with others. And you are right. They become someone unrecognizable to their former selves. It is heartbreaking. I’m so glad you have maintained a clear sense of her from before the disease took hold of her. Blessings.

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    • Thanks, Renee. It was a long time ago, and it was so clear, even at the time, that it wasn’t her shouting. It was harder for my Dad, who was the target and who had to deal with the guilt.

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  6. Oh Elyse, this both lifted me up and broke my heart. You were so fortunate to be witness to such love. I think it this love, this compassion it is what makes you the wonderful person you are today. Thank you for sharing their story, again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Val. I really was fortunate — and that’s what I keep in mind. Once in a while the other stuff creeps in. That’s when I write!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your parents love story, all of it, the beautiful and the devastating. Your memories of them together, laughing in their younger years is priceless. My dad was diagnosed with dementia about a year ago. He seems fine but is forgetful. I’ve realized a person’s body can be damaged or broken but they’re still “them”….but when the mind starts to go it’s heartbreaking because the person you love isn’t “them” anymore. Thanks again for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. Knowing it is coming must help prepare in some ways, but also make it harder to watch.

      In what I’ve read, not everybody develops the same symptoms — let’s hope that your Dad’s symptoms are more manageable.

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      • Thank you. So strange to watch him…at his last birthday he knew everyone and said a few words about us all. A few days later he called my sister to ask if I was there and he sent someone who wasn’t there a thank you card. He’s very happy where he is though, thankfully.

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  8. This brought tears to my eyes. My dad was diagnosed last year with Lewy Body dementia — it’s just a matter of time before he starts hallucinating and doesn’t know us anymore. I’m heartbroken for my mother, who is losing the man she loves — but also for my dad, who is a doctor and knows what is coming, and is powerless to stop it.

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    • Oh Jana, I feel for you and your father and your mother. My mom’s experience was quick and sudden — which for her was a relatively lucky thing (if that’s possible). I wish you all the love, luck and patience as you all go forward.

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  9. Absolutely heart-breaking. Reminds me of when my mom became so manic she broke from reality and was telling everyone that my father was trying to kill her. She eventually came back down (after several weeks in a mental hospital), but it happened a number of times.

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    • Oh dear — that must have been difficult for all of you. Life is so much harder than we expect, isn’t it.

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      • It sure was hard. I’ll just say that mental illness sure can be a bitch. As mom got into her 60’s and 70’s, her medications became less and less effective. Her doctor would try this and that, and it seemed like the last 6 or so years was just swinging from depression to mania and back again (with a few hospitalizations thrown in just for *fun*).

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  10. Oh, Elyse. I’m so, so sorry for the pain you and your family experienced. I can’t imagine. Thank you for sharing this tough memory with such eloquence.

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    • I actually have no real idea why I wanted to write about this — because it is so sad to think that my poor Dad lived with so much undeserved guilt for the rest of his life.

      Thanks for reading it. As a fellow big family person, you probably get the dynamics more than most!

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      • One of my elderly clients had to put her husband in a nursing home because she couldn’t care for him any more. He was one of the kindest, most gentlemanly men I knew but at the end she said he yelled vile things at her every day when she went to visit him. Even knowing it was the dementia, not the real him, she said it broker her heart.

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  11. This breaks my heart. I’m sorry you all went through that. I’m sorry you lost your mother.

    I used to be a care aid and I’ll never forget my first client. He was 67 years old and really far gone with dementia. I won’t go into all the details but I will say there were times he tried to seriously hurt me and his wife while I was caring for him. He almost broke his wife’s arm. I had to try and pry his hands off of her. She couldn’t believe that he didn’t recognize her anymore she still thought she could bring him back. She fought him going to a home. It was so very sad. The families such as yourself go through two deaths I believe. The death of who they used to be and then eventually physical death.

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  12. Weeping my way through this one, Elyse. So moving and heart wrenching. Your timing is perfect right between Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Your parents are an example to us all in relationships to make sure we laugh more. Your piece conveys not only their love for one another but your love for each of your parents. Thank you for this heart felt glimpse behind the scenes. Love it and you, dear friend. ❤️❤️❤️

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    • Thanks, Janni. They were something. I used to wonder what they had to say to each other every day after so many years. Life. They talked about life.

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  13. There’s so much beauty under all that pain and suffering. You ask yourself why it has to be that way, but then sometimes you remind yourself that the beauty was always there enough to still shine through. A beautiful tribute to your parent’s love, Elyse.

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  14. It’s scary what our brains can turn into. Those last few months of your mother’s life must have been very challenging for you and your family. My father went completely crazy the last two weeks of his life. Fortunately it was only two weeks. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law is slowly losing it, and my 87-year-old father-in-law is about to collapse trying to take care of her. Dementia is probably the worst thing there is about aging.

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    • Dementia is terrifying, isn’t it. One of the wisest, sweetest women I’ve ever known suffered from it for about 15 years — until she didn’t know her family any longer. She didn’t deserve that.

      It sounds like your father may have had the same thing my mother had. She was only a banshee for a couple of weeks, before the last big stroke silenced her. Good luck to your poor father-in-law. It is a tough burden at any age, but at his, well, that’s hard. And it’s love.

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  15. So sad to watch both parents suffer, one from disease and the other as a caretaker. Its a tough way to end such a wonderful marriage. You wrote a lovely tribute to them both.

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    • It really is hard to watch. I was lucky that my sister and brother lived nearby. We are close enough to my mother-in-law to help somewhat, too. But it is difficult to watch people who were once vibrant become so dependent.

      Thanks for the nice words about the post,

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  16. That was beautiful and moving.

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  17. Oh Elyse this is such a touching story. I like the openess of your words but was heartbroken by the story. I feel for your father watching the love of his life slipping away slowly and horribly. I feel for helplessness you endured.

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    • It was a hard story to tell. Poor Dad, he loved her so much. The injustice of her stroke happening immediately after he asked her to be quiet breaks my heart. But you know, I think we’re all helpless in the face of illness, aging and death. There’s nothing we can do about it!

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  18. NotAPunkRocker

    I see so many people going through this as caregivers right now, which is surprising and scary to me in terms of how many lives really are affected by these conditions. Thank you for sharing their story

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    • Isn’t it amazing — are we seeing more of it now as a result of our aging population, or were folks just at home, out of sight. I know my mom’s mom lived with us for years before I was born and when I was very small. In some ways, with medical treatments, folks are living longer and the care goes on for longer, too.

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  19. I alway feel so awful for the families of Alzheimer’s patients. In the beginning, the patients are aware, and I’m sure it is awful for them. But toward the end, I don’t think they know what’s happening. The families, however, suffer every moment of the disease–even after their loved one is gone because (as you so effectively wrote), the memories of your sweet loved one are marred by the person they became.

    Phil’s dad recently died. He had Alzheimer’s for 6 years. His mom was a tireless caretaker who died 5 months later. She was worn out and heart-broken. Such a sad thing… We do walks for Alzheimer’s every June.

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    • I’m so sorry that Phil — and you — lost two parents so close together. I think that that is not uncommon, though. My grandmother lived as an invalid for about 40 years, and died a month after my hale and hearty grandfather died suddenly of a heart attack. Sometimes, it is just too hard to go on.

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  20. *sob* Such a touching post. My mother had a very mild dementia that came and went during her last months. Nothing like this but enough that we tried to have someone with her all the time (my Dad had already passed). There is something cruel with a disease that robs you of your kindness and sanity.

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  21. And today, peace to all (as I say with tears running wild).

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  22. I can only imagine how hard this was for you to write. Such raw honesty. Much peace, love, and hugs to you, Elyse.

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  23. It’s hard to read this, knowing that the road ahead with my own relative may be a long and sorrowful one. I’m sorry both for your father and your family, Elyse. What an incredibly painful experience that must have been for all of you.

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    • It was for us, and it will be, sadly, for you. Life, death and the demons that prelude death would be easier to bear without the love. But then what would we have?

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  24. A beautiful, heartwarming post. Thanks so much for sharing these memories.

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  25. My Mum is in the early stages of dementia. I am a two hour drive away so not able to do as much as I should. I am grateful she is living with my sister and appreciate the strains and struggles she has to contend with when Mum is having a ‘bad day’. Each day I can spend with her is a gift. I rarely phone as she gets confused not knowing who I am, though the last call I made on her birthday last month was wonderful in its conclusion.
    A lovely post, heartfelt and heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing.

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    • I’m so sorry to learn about your Mum. I know how hard it is — especially when you are too far away to offer much in the way of practical help for your sister. I felt awful, but did what I could — which mostly meant keeping Dad’s spirits up, making him laugh, and giving him something to look forward to each day. My brother and sister were there to help with the real work. But each of us has their own lives and their own abilities. I’m sure you do all you can.

      My mom’s dementia was fairly short — and cut even shorter by the stroke. It was impossible afterwards to tell it was her at all after that. Looking back there were earlier signs that it was there.

      Good luck with your Mom to you and your sister.

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      • Thanks Elyse. It’s believed my Mum had a small stroke some time ago in her sleep. Mum remembers things from long ago, so I write letters with photos of our current life and refer back to similar times for her easy comparison. I then send the letter by email to my sister who prints it off for her. I do what I can when I can, and if on our visits Mum is up to going out for lunch, we treat her so as to give my sister a break. Mind you, her daughters pop in every day, and at the moment Sis is confident to leave Mum on her own. There is a lot to be grateful for.

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  26. I was so moved by your piece, and send you and your Dad my thoughts. My Dad too is left behind after losing Mum. Not to dementia but to MRSA ahe contracted in hospital. My two sisters and I include Dad in a lot of what we do, so that we still feel like a family and can build new, positive memories.

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    • My Dad didn’t live too much longer after losing Mom. She died on Easter, 1997, and he went on Christmas, 2000. Dad’s heart really was gone, and he was terribly lonely.

      But each case is different. It sounds as if you and your sisters are doing all you can to make him feel loved and not alone. What more could a Dad ask for under those sad circumstances?

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  27. I’m sitting with tears streaming, at the beauty, the love and the heartbreak. I have known, just a little, of that exhaustion and pain that broke your father’s restraint for just a moment. He is not alone in that, nor does it lessen the love; it is because there is so much love that such things rip your heart out.

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    • Thanks, Sue. Welcome.

      I think it is a very human failing. One that we all are susceptible to from time to time. Nobody is immune. I hope that whatever situation you are referring to has eased.

      My very gruff dad was incredibly gentle, always, with Mom. My brothers and sisters and I were very fortunate to witness the deep love, to be the product of it.

      That’s really what makes it so heartbreaking. And what left Dad unable to forgive himself in his heart (in his head he did get it).

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      • For me it was my late partner and friend of forty years. And also with my son in the early days after the attack that left him brain injured. Caring is a 24/7 presence, and whether it is a delight or a heartache, it is always demanding.
        You are right, of course. The head does understand all the logic of it. The emotions don’t and the heart aches. x

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        • Oh my. How hard it must have been for you. We all know that these things are possible, but the reality is so much harder and so overwhelming. I’m so sorry for your losses and the heartaches that accompanied them. (I don’t know if your son is still with you, but it is a loss when someone becomes unrecognizable, just as much as when they pass.)

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          • Don’t be sorry.. my partner passed when the moment was right, just before he lost too much of himself. My son is back with us in every way… he’s just focussing on the rest of his physical recovery now. 🙂 I’m still a carer,of course, but these days that is more a cross between house-elf, dogsbody, cook and general handyperson than anything else. 🙂

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            • So happy about your son. I was thinking of Beau Biden, a story without a happy ending like yours. And really, if we could all go “when the moment was right,” I think we’d all fear the future so much less.

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              • That was a sad loss for his family, and at such a young age too.
                I don’t really fear the future for myself, only for its possible impact on those I love.

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  28. Reblogged this on Barb Taub and commented:
    You must read this heartbreaking and beautiful love story.

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  29. Thank you for writing this very moving post. ((Hugs))

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  30. Oh. Oh. It wasn’t dementia I experienced the consequences of, but this … reminds me so much of those days. Of those words. Of knowing it wasn’t her, but not being able to fully grasp that since the voice and the facade were the same.

    So beautifully and tenderly written, and so heartbreaking.

    I want to hug you all.

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    • Thanks, Deb. It is an old wound, as it all happened in 1997. Something brought it back to mind a while ago and I’ve been trying to get this post written for ages.

      It is so hard seeing someone you care about fade, fail and go. Devastating. I think in some ways it is easier for those left behind, because it really was a blessing when Mom passed. For folks I’ve known who passed quickly, unexpectedly, it is harder, I think. But really, it sucks either way.

      Sending hugs back.

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  31. Some quick moments just effing suck.

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  32. That is indeed a tear-inducing story. How painful that must’ve been for you all, especially your dad since he took the brunt of it. Dementia and strokes are cruel beasts, for sure.

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    • Mom’s dementia was sudden — no doubt caused by another stroke. So I don’t think it scared her the way it must when someone realizes they are slowly but surely sinking into it. The smartest woman I’ve ever known got Alzheimer’s and I think that was so very cruel. She was the mother of an old boyfriend, and she and I remained close. She had it for 10 years — slowly losing herself.

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  33. This is so heartbreaking.

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  34. Thank you for keeping us aware. Big hugs for you. You are so spot on that the screaming lady was not your mom. Your mom was the lady who knew how to laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. That was powerful. You told the story well.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Oh Elyse, I understand. My father suffered from mild dementia the last few years of his life. It was very mild, and still it broke my heart – the unfairness that someone so dignified and intelligent could be even a little ‘lost.’ I hope your father’s many wonderful years with your mother were a comfort to him.

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    • He did know that what they’d shared was unusual and very special. But that “please be quiet” haunted him for the rest of his life. He knew intellectually that he had been good, but the guilt, oh it was terrible.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. That was so powerful, frank. I couldn’t hit the like button. I want you to know though that I had tears in my eyes for you, but mostly for your dad and your mother. Your mother had left your dad and the world long before she died. Thank goodness she never understood what was happening. Your dad was so good, so loving, so decent. I’m sure he thought her last stroke was because of him. It must be so very hard to witness the disappearing of a loved one. The body is still there, the voice, but the personality is gone. Big hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. A very brave and beautiful post. xox, V

    Liked by 1 person

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