I spoke with my mother recently. Each time I speak with her, she tells me that my father’s gotten worse. My father, who will be 84 this year, no longer knows how to put on his pants. My mother helps him dress. Helps him with his zipper. Puts on his shoes. Shows him how to push “talk” on his phone when I call. Reminds him to take his pills. Pills that don’t seem to be helping with his failing mind. A mind that once was brilliant.
My father once was a master chess player. He read Russian literature. He could fix anything.
Each morning, my mother puts the pills my father is to take in a little bowl on the kitchen counter. She reminds him many times to go into the kitchen and take them. She also puts the cat’s treats in a little bowl on the kitchen counter. Recently, instead of taking his pills, he ate the cat’s treats. When my mother told me this story, my father was on the extension. He laughed and said the cat’s treats were pretty good. So although his mind is failing, he still has his sense of humor.
My father goes to work every Monday through Friday at the business he built. He sits in his office with a space heater, and naps in his chair. In the evenings, at home, he naps in his chair with a heated throw I gave him for Christmas this past year. This is pretty much the extent of his days.
I wonder what it’s like for my dad. Does he know he is deteriorating? Does he know he’s no longer the brilliant engineer he once was? Does he feel frustrated when he can’t make the phone work? Is he frightened when I tell him he’s trying to put on my mother’s shoes?
So far, he still knows who I am. He still knows his house is his home. He still argues with my mother as he’s always done. He’s looking forward to his summer vacation in Ontario. He loves his cat.
I dedicate this 100th post to my father.