This blog was started months ago but I just couldn’t bring myself to work on it. I have finally done it and am happy to share it with you now. Grab a tissue.
Today my family is putting my Papa, best friend, and my #1 wonderful male role-model into a senior care facility. It has been coming for several exhausting years but for the sake of my grandmother, it is finally time. I’ve been a hot mess for a solid 24 hours and as many people with memory-challenged family can confirm, it won’t get better but probably worse. I’ve slowly accepted that Papa no longer knows my name (not that he ever called me it once in my life) or recognizes me when I walk in his home. I’ve also accepted that our traditions will all be different now. No watching the Macy’s Day Parade on Thanksgiving. No watching Bonanza and eating ice cream together. No football games, rides in the car, egg and cheese biscuits, nothing. Only short visits and hoping he is in a good mood. I will have to rely on all our happy memories to get me through I suppose. To be honest, it feels like he is already gone in spirit and is just waiting on his body to get the memo.
I’ve worked at an assisted living center and never once did anyone ever get to go home. I know this is permanent and I also know he will probably decline quickly. Without the typical stimulation and personal interaction he would get at home, the mind dwindles. Nothing unusual, that is just a fact of life. I am sad to see him moving away from his wife of over 60 years and my nephew that he loves watching play. I am sad he won’t be sitting in his chair when I arrive with the children we will have. My biggest hurdle is that he will not be the wonderful role model that he was to me to my own children. It will be hard but his legacy will definitely live on through the stories and pictures that are some of my most prized possessions.
Update: I’ve visited Papa several times since he moved into the Veteran Center. As I suspected, he has gotten worse and I always find him catatonic staring at a wall. I can’t even begin to explain to you how much I want this to all end. This is not the man that I know. He is not the man that took me to parades, played dress-up with me or took me for driving lessons. This is a shell of a person that I push up to the dining hall and I can’t help but wonder if he can hear me. Can he hear me and his body won’t allow him to respond right or can he not understand me at all? I’m going to continue to pretend he can hear me but in all honesty, I think his mind is just longing for home. I know I sure would! My comfort is that he will save me a good spot in the choir because boy did he like to sing.