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I’m not as lost as you think I am.

April 17, 2012

The weekend Ryan and I got engaged coincided with my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. In recognition of the milestone, they stayed at the Kingwood Resort in Clayton, Georgia, where they also spent their honeymoon in 1971. Ryan proposed to me on Dockery Lake, located in a lovely section of the Chattahoochee National Forest that offers refreshingly little cell phone service. Once we returned to the Dahlonega square and had ordered drinks at Irish pub Shenanigan’s to celebrate, I called my parents to share the news.

“Heeee!” Mother squealed.

“Who’s she engaged to?” I heard Daddy ask in the background.

In retrospect, Ryan wonders if Daddy’s question was genuine, instead of dripping with his typical sarcasm. After all, Mother finally accepted that something was seriously wrong with Daddy during their anniversary excursion, beyond the doctor’s shoddy diagnosis of depression. Daddy’s anxiety peaked during Christmas per the fear of not knowing the cause of his memory loss. He has calmed down since receiving a real diagnosis, and his very short-term memory even seems to have improved.

Even though I’m taking an antidepressant, I’m struggling with the realization that Daddy has Alzheimer’s disease, and that he won’t enjoy the retirement he deserves. My psychiatrist warned me to watch out for a flatline of emotion, and at first I worried I physically couldn’t cry anymore. But the past several weeks confirmed that I have not become an emotional zombie. Proof includes obviously crying as well as driving down Boulevard while beating my steering wheel and screaming to God that it isn’t fair.

A cloud shrouded me when Daddy forgot Ryan’s last name.  Then a couple weeks later he asked me a disturbing question.

“Aren’t we having a reception for you?”

“What?” I jolted.

“I thought we were having a reception for you or something…”

“You mean my wedding?”

“Oh yeah. That makes sense.”

I bit my lip and laughed it off, but mentioned it to Mother later.

“He’s just confused, Bobbin. They are throwing him a retirement reception at work.”

Figuring this is the new reality, I assumed Daddy needed to be reminded I’m getting married when I convened with him and Mother at the Acworth Art Fest this weekend. Our close family friends John John and Penny sold their work at the show, and when we reached their booth I asked if they had received their Save the Date postcard yet.

“Do you know what I’m talking about?” I asked Daddy.

“Yer weddin’,” he puffed his chest.

“Golly!” John John guffawed, patting Daddy on the shoulder.

“I’m not as lost as you think I am,” Daddy notified me.

At one point we traipsed through downtown Acworth in search of a suitable place to eat lunch. Daddy spotted a man wearing a Georgia Tech t-shirt on a bench. (Daddy attended North Georgia College but fully supports his childhood best friend’s alma mater.)

“I like your shirt,” Daddy complimented the man. “You must be a good person and the president of an important comp’ny.”

“Thank you,” he laughed.

We passed the man again on the way out from Fusco’s.

“I like your shirt!” Daddy pointed at the yellow jacket logo. The man chuckled.

I wonder if Daddy commented on the shirt a second time for comedic effect, or if he forgot seeing it just an hour earlier.

I am comforted to know that Daddy still has a lot of wit but remain fearful of the disease’s progression. I’ll continue to worry about breaking down when he gives me away at the wedding.

I read an applicable Khalil Gibran quote on my friend Karen Shacham’s blog:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

At my next psychiatric appointment I’ll let my doctor know I have become calmer but not less emotional. As always I am a pendulum of sorrow and joy. If I cry when Daddy walks me down the aisle, I guess I can look at the tears as an expression of happiness either way.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2012 10:24 pm

    Hey Bobbin. I know this is getting harder and harder on you. But, sweetie, think of it like this: he may forget stuff, but you have him here with you to remind. My Daddy died when I was 16. He didn’t get to see me graduate, get married or have my kids. Be happy that he is here to witness all your happenings, and know you can help him remember what ever he forgets, b/c you are a strong woman and you and Timber are the best daughters he could ever ask for.

  2. April 17, 2012 10:44 pm

    Thank you for the perspective, Pam. I’m sorry that you lost your father at such a young age. Now more than ever, I cherish time spent with my parents and know I’m lucky to have enjoyed having both of them thus far.

  3. Carolyn wise permalink
    April 21, 2012 5:38 pm

    This was very emotional for me. I can only imagine what you are feeling. I pray for all of you. I love that picture of Robert in his army attire.

  4. April 22, 2012 8:50 pm

    I love this photo, too. It’s attached to my refrigerator. I just spoke with Mother, and she said the trip to Hartwell was nice. I most of all enjoyed hearing about Jerry’s goth niece’s wedding.

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