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I feel odd.

July 23, 2012

I often wonder how Daddy feels. When I ask, he claims he’s great, but his inordinate napping and lack of overall ambition suggest otherwise. Daddy never will appear vulnerable in front of me as long as he can help it. Only Mother sees his fragile side. Upon realizing Mother really wanted to know how he was doing the other day, Daddy responded, “I feel odd.”

Daddy’s answer bothered me, so I brought it up to my therapist. She thinks Daddy meant he doesn’t feel like himself. “And he’s not going to,” she remarked, a summation she often makes. When I mention missing Daddy’s and my complex conversations, she’ll say, “You will never have them again.” Or if I discuss pining for the Old Daddy, she’ll add, “He’s not coming back.”

Like I don’t already know that.

Daddy served as a deacon at Sonoraville Baptist Church for 30 years. Checking on his assigned families, visiting sick congregation members and teaching an adult Sunday school class comprised a large part of his identity outside of work. In December, he decided he no longer could fulfill those obligations and hasn’t attended a deacon meeting since. But a couple Sundays ago he insisted he hadn’t skipped any meetings and needed Mother to give him a ride. The kerfuffle occurred in the middle of a deceased church member’s funeral visitation, causing Mother to sob.

“I know, I’m gonna miss him, too,” a bystander attempted to console her, misunderstanding the source of her tears.

Because Daddy is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a lot of people don’t detect and can’t comprehend the seriousness of his condition – even though to me, Daddy has become a drastically different person. Amazingly, at the first deacon meeting Daddy showed up to in seven months, someone asked him to substitute teach a Sunday school class. Daddy no longer reads or studies his Bible anymore, so I am wary of how he will handle retaining and preparing a lesson based on the teacher’s outline. Mother plans to take over the lecture in case Daddy gets flustered.

At least teaching a Sunday school class will give Daddy something to work toward and do.

Watching Daddy progress is and will be devastating for my family and me. I am incapable of fathoming what Daddy is going through. The other day my dear friend JJ mentioned how upset a former girlfriend became over her own father’s AD diagnosis and subsequent deterioration.

“And I told her, what difference does it make to HIM? It’s almost a sweet cluelessness,” JJ said.

Similarly, my therapist recently told me, “Your father probably isn’t as unhappy as you think.”

I guess I’m supposed to find comfort in those statements. Maybe I should imagine Daddy’s soul dancing toward a happier, halcyon dimension while he leaves behind his shell.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2012 5:16 pm

    I’m a little disconcerted by the comments toward the end. Yeah, I’m sure it’s supposed to be comforting to think that Daddy is happy, but we also need to acknowledge that he is acutely aware something is wrong. A therapist should know that. It’s due to the distressing nature of the illness that many patients require anti-depressants.

  2. September 26, 2012 8:00 pm

    I don’t necessarily agree with other people’s comments about Daddy’s state of mind either. In fact some of them make me angry. Like we’ve discussed, I want to pinpoint the reason why Daddy spends most of his free time sleeping – is it a manifestation of the disease or a sign of depression that can be alleviated?

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