So my father has early onset dementia.
Signs were probably present from around age 65.
He is now 73 and late stage.
It is a very tough disease.
People say it is not hard on the actual people with dementia.
But I do wonder if there is still some remnant of his spirit still trapped inside, deeply frustrated with his inability to have any significant cognitive function.
Then again… perhaps it is ok for him...
The world just existing solely at the moment with no capacity for recall of events and just a continual sense of wonder that he finds himself in this new location with no connecting events of how he got there.
There does seem to be some faint emotional memory of who I am.
He says “yes” when I ask him if he knows who I am, but that is all he can answer.
I don’t know if he really does know me, his eldest son, or whether he just says yes to most things these days.
Perhaps I am just making it up that he still has some baseline experience of me, one of his four children.
What is hard is the inability to ask him questions and for advice.
As a father, it would be great to ask about his insights and learnings of being a parent.
Something to compare my current experience to.
Hey Dad, so you remember when I was 11, how did that go for you?
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Is there anything you would do more of?
Is there anything you see in my parenting of my children that I don’t?
I’m not saying I would definitely take his advice… the world has changed a LOT between the ’80s and now…
But just to be able to hear his insights would be deeply valuable.
And even more than all of that would be to have him back in my life.
To hear him say, I’m proud of you Tom.
To tell him I love him and hear him say that back.
Dementia takes all that away.
And this gap, this loneliness that is left…
It must be accepted as the disease is what it is and he is not coming back, even though his body is still here.
I miss you Dad.
Thank you for all of who you were and all that you did give to us before dementia took you away.