Every time I call my mom these days, she says “Hi, let me put your dad on.” She’s gone in a whisk and a clunk, and I’m on the phone with him.
I don’t know if she’s pissed and doesn’t want to talk to me,
or if she’s making me Dad’s babysitter while she uses the potty by herself for the first time all day,
or if this is some Cat’s In The Cradle bullshit scene because Dad’s falling apart so fast.
I’d ask her, but I can’t get two words in before whisk/clunk.
When I first started talking about my dad’s dementia, some kindhearted commenter said, it becomes the new normal. Yes. This. My dad doesn’t make sense anymore. I can hardly remember what he sounded like when he did. He says:
“Well, we went to the … place, you know?” (Uh huh, I say) “And we had to get.. the-the thing. But there was a dumb kid who didn’t understand I wanted to … I can’t remember the word, help me out here. So now we gotta go back to the other place, and it’s a hassle, you know?”
It’s like hearing a ghost, patchwork pieces of a hundred old conversations with all the specifics snipped out. It’s comforting and distressing, swirled together until those emotions lose their edges and blend into some feeling that is both, as impossible as that seems. Then frequently terrifying when I hang up the phone and process that I’ve had a twenty minute phone call with my dad, and technically, it was gibberish.
A few weeks ago, I went through this … thing, I dunno (whee, now it is I who am speaking gibberish) but this thing where I told my husband — if I inherit whatever my dad’s got, I want him to take no measures to prolong my life.
“O…..k,” my husband agrees, so reluctantly I suspect he’s lying to me.
“Not just the DNR-type stuff,” I insist. “I mean, blood pressure medication, diabetic stuff, anything. When I get where my dad is now, stop giving me any meds. Because by the time I get there, I’ll be too demented to remember it’s time.”
After I made him promise, I went to my husband’s mother, and then a close friend. I told them all what I’d told my husband to do to me, and that it was my strong wish for him to act accordingly. “So if I ever end up kicking it under somewhat suspicious circumstances, I’m telling you now – that’s how I wanted it, so support him, even if it looks like I got smothered by a pillow or something, OK?”
About two days later, I realized I’d just told my nearest and dearest not to raise a fuss if my husband kills me. Guess if he gets bored and wants and start over with some Mrs. Nahm 2.0, I’ve just signed, notarized, and approved my own death warrant. Even so, I can’t make myself take the words back. I do not want to be around when I get where my dad is now.
Then I realized I’m skating at the edge of wishing my father dead.
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