My First Encounter With Dementia: Daddy Pat (Part I)


Some people may claim they had the best grandfathers in the world, but I really did. Wylie Patterson, aka Daddy Pat, was an old country boy who farmed, worked at a cotton gin, and then went on to work at the Panama Canal until literally 3 months after I was born. He was, and remains, the best man I’ve ever known.

Mommy and Daddy Pat celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, 1973

To say that I was lucky to have spent so much time with Daddy Pat feels funny to me because of the reasons behind our frequent visits. My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was seven years old. She spent the remaining two years of her life in and out of the hospital, fighting the good fight. Thus, Mommy and Daddy Pat became very important adults in my life not only as grandparents, but also as caretakers. I spent many nights at their house when I was sick so my father could go to work.

It was during these “live-ins” that I really learned about the man my grandfather was. He used to quietly wake me in the middle of the night so we could sneak into the kitchen and eat Mommy Pat cookies on vanilla ice cream. Since he was a man of few words, this was a pretty easy task for him. Others might have called him stoic, but he really wasn’t. He was dear, quiet, sweet, and funny. He was my Daddy Pat.

As I got older and needed less attention, he changed. He slowly became moody. He resisted any and all offers to help with his lawn. He resisted to the point of taking out several of the fruit trees in his back yard. He told me he did it because the trees crowded the yard. Mommy Pat told me he took them out because he couldn’t take care of them on his own anymore and he didn’t want to admit it.

He also became repetitive. He told the same story about cranking up a Model A and nearly breaking his arm. I must have heard the same story about driving the sharecroppers to the fields via a deep dip in the road a million times. “Them older guys knew to hold on. All the new boys would damn near fly out of the bed of my truck!”

Slowly, he became even quieter, less talkative, to the point of near silence. But he always lit up when he saw me. He always hugged me, pat me on the back, kissed my cheek and said, “My girl is here!” (still brings tears to my eyes) Then, he always made sure I got one of the good swivel rockers in their living room. Mommy Pat and I would rock and talk for hours while Daddy Pat sat and listened, smiled and laughed, or frowned and said “Oh no!” (mostly when I spoke about boys)

Then, he’d be back to his old self, or as close as he ever got again. He and Mommy Pat began recounting events during the first weeks and months following my mother’s death. Daddy Pat would say, “Ernestine, tell her about how she’d wait for Joy” (my mother). So, they’d recount the times I stood by their front window, looking outside, for what seemed hours at a time, nearly 10 years prior.

“Honey girl, what you doin’ at that window?” Mommy Pat would ask.

“Waiting for mommy to come and get me.”

Daddy Pat would tell me this story over and over again, then he’d look me in the eyes and do something I’d never seen him do before. He’d cry. He’d say how sorry he was that I had that life. He’d tell me he wished he could have done more for me. We’d spent a lot of time consoling each other and it would end with, “You know, you’re my very favorite grandpa?” He’d say, “I’m the only one you know.” Then we’d agree that’s why I only had one, because the other might have felt left out.

This is when I first notice his mood swings. The man who once only showed a level head around me began to cry and get mad in front of me. Mostly, he got mad at Mommy Pat and his son, my sweet Uncle Sonny.  He usually cried about the fact I was so young when mom died or how my cousin Kenny worked so hard to help his mom, my Aunt Helen, through her battle with cancer. Sometimes it felt refreshing to see these new displays of love and grief, but mostly they confused me. At the time, I had no idea what all these symptoms meant. My grandfather was invincible. The thought his mind was failing never occurred to me.

Then I got that dreaded call from Mommy Pat. At the time, I was living in Denton attending the University of North Texas. She called to tell me she had to move Daddy Pat to a nursing home because “he’s too hard for me to handle on my own. He’s not himself anymore, sweetie.”

(continue reading….)

Mommy and Daddy Pat in the nursing home.

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154 responses to “My First Encounter With Dementia: Daddy Pat (Part I)

  1. Hi my friend! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and
    come with approximately all vital infos. I would like to look more posts like this .

  2. And they very well may be. I think the hardest part of my father’s struggle was the knowing. Knowing things were changing and not wanting to admit it. Pride, not wanting to be babied, all sorts of things come into play. Good luck to you all.

  3. congrats! nice post

  4. Covered in Houston? How is TX? Please do tell. CNN has stopped reporting on it online. I left my sons’ grandfather there in Marble Falls in the spring of 2008 on a beautiful pecan ranch and I wonder if he and the ranch are alright.

  5. Amazing. You have such a big heart.

  6. Thank you for sharing the story with your friend. I hope it helps. I don’t know if I can imagine what you went through with your mother, but I hope you know you’re not alone, even if the experiences aren’t exactly the same.

  7. I look forward to reading more. I’ve only recently begun to volunteer in a senior’s home and I see so much of what you describe as I putter around there. It’s become one of my week’s great joys and at the same time, one of my week’s great sadnesses. I, too, blog sometimes about my times spent with these beautiful and oftentimes forgotten people and so was delighted to read about someone like you who is writing about some of these same issues.

  8. Pingback: How to Understand Dementia « 505specialk

  9. What a powerful tribute! My blog shares the story of my recovery from bipolar disorder, so these kind of posts touch me deeply. Thanks so much for sharing. I look forward to reading the next part of your story.

  10. I have kind of a difficutl situation with my parents. My father will be 70 years old in less than two years. He has refused to retire up until this point even though they own their own house and probably could get by on social security income. The thing is that I can tell that he has aged mentally. I was very close to him as a kid and I can already tell that the time tracking within him seems to have died. Mentally I can just tell that he is not the same. My mother is 6 years younger than him and she refuses to admit that they are even entering old age. My grandmother (my mom’s mom) who lived with them while she had dementia died around last Thanksgiving. I was not even able to make it up to the hospital to say good by to my grandmother before she passed away because it happened so quickly. It feels to me like my family that we are living in this dillusional bubble.

    • And they very well may be. I think the hardest part of my father’s struggle was the knowing. Knowing things were changing and not wanting to admit it. Pride, not wanting to be babied, all sorts of things come into play. Good luck to you all.

  11. Thank you for sharing!

  12. This is my worst nightmare. I’m sorry your family is going through this. Beautiful post – keep writing.

  13. I guess it helps to know that you aren’t alone while going through it. My grandma is going through some of what you described. The mood swings, the repetitive telling of the same story. She also often reverts to behavior I would expect from a young child. It’s more and more difficult to get through each day. I often don’t have time to put my thoughts and feelings down in writing, but have been struggling with getting it recorded as best I can before the end. Both grandma and grandpa have dementia and can’t keep things straight anymore. I’m going to have to be the ‘bad’ guy and see about putting them in long term care. Sad, but no one that comes into contact with them thinks they should be at home anymore. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Ms T

    • The decision to move loved ones into longterm care is sooo challenging. We put it off for a while and when we finally moved him, it made a big difference. Are things perfect? No. Are they better? Yes. Had dad adjusted? Yes. Ask around and find out recommendations for how to bring up the subject to your grandparents. You may find a combination of suggestions that work great!

  14. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your grandfather, Daddy Pat. A little too emotional to say any more right now. But, thank you.

  15. I loved it to death…..Its a very wonderful story that all of us feel things that will happen in the future.The real story of our life in the most heartbreaking event in our old age.People always forgot things like that.But its a very important event that made us think of old ones who needs affection and care especially who suffered in a vulnerable disease like dimentia.U shared a very inspiring story that will surely provide information to call our attention to old people we love…….

  16. Thank for sharing your thoughts and memories of your grandfather. Mine is also dealing with dementia, and some of the challenges he and my grandmother face leave me weak in the knees. Like Grandpa Pat, my Papaw is precious to me, and it is hard watching him slowly slip away. All we can do is love on them the best we can and care for them the best we know how. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  17. Coli, Jitterbug is a cell phone that is designed for retirees with simplicity in mind.

  18. wonderfully touching post. I am just graduating from a Therapeutic recreation Degree and will be doing my internship at a Long Term Care facility where I will be working closely with Alzheimers and Dementia patients and your insights were quite enlightening to me. thank you for sharing your experiences.

  19. Thank you for sharing. It was an excellent post.

  20. This was a beautifully written post. You have my sincere condolences. Losing my mother last year to cervical cancer, I can relate to how hard it is to see someone you love begin to slip away. It seems that the time begin to fast-forward without your permission. Cherish the time you have with your loved ones, when it’s all said and done, those are the moments that will get you through the rough periods. Thank you for this post. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading even more of them.

  21. Colin L Beadon

    Probably close to Alzheimers myself, at 76, I’ve evolved a theory.
    The modern world is too full of overpowering new ideas and electronic gadgets that are forcing us, of an older age, into a constant pitch of bewilderness. We can’t turn on a television any longer, just by turning a switch. Now we have to learn, almost every few months, it seems, a complete set of new instructions just to look at television.
    Then there are the cell phones, almost impossible to use, doing all sorts of things unbidden which you don’t need and can’t get rid of unless you turn the cell phone off and start all over again. Strange, nobody thought of making a cell phone for the millions of elder people, of utmost simplicity, with just an off and on, and a ‘send’ or ‘receive’.
    Then there is the ‘online’ income tax papers and everything else of this sort, enough to make anybody want to turn violent. You can’t even bake a cake simply any longer, or get into a car, without having to learn a whole set of new rules.
    There is this constant bombardment going on, and no wonder many elder people just want to switch off and creep into an area of peace deep within themselves, having had enough of the rest of the gone mad world where nothing is simple any longer, not even opening a can of beans.

  22. Grandparents are very important…. I have not seen them, so I really miss them.

  23. Thank you most sincerely. With hugs and more tears than I want to admit to. 🙂

  24. Thanks for the information, helpful indeed.Keep on going,I will keep an eye on it.

  25. you are lucky,because you have a grandfather that cares you even they not remember you…you must give your best to care them until the end..

  26. you are lucky to have a grandfather and they are lucky to have a grandson like you…

  27. Thank you. As caregiver for my 94 year old mother, I am on a similar journey.

  28. That is a very touching blog post you have here. But I am sorry to read that your father lost his memories and identity to dementia. However, your encounter with dementia made you stronger and more emphatic than you could imagine. Thanks for sharing.

  29. It is always hard to see the ones you love start to lose the life they once had…

  30. They are lucky to have you and you are lucky to have them!
    Thank you for sharing.

  31. So moving. :’)
    I’m looking forward to the continuation.
    Take care.

  32. Great post. And to think that could be any one of us in the not too distant future. So sad to see that happen to the ones you love.

  33. really sad to read ur story (T_T)
    i had the same experience..but it was happened to my father. Started from 2006, and last Desember, he passed away….

  34. How moving and touching!! Wishing you blessings and peace! Yesterday was the 1st year anniversary of my Dad’s passing. He had Alzheimers and sclerderma which hardened his internal organs. It was very hard to deal with, but with God’s grace and strength, we can be there for them.

  35. Goodness. I’ve been blogging about my Dad slipping into Alzheimer’s for over a year and plan to publish his/our story. Keep blogging, it soothes the soul. It doesn’t fix anything, but it really helps internalize and deal with the issue.

    Hang in there. I’m here if you need suggestions about books to read, or if you just want to chat.

  36. Thankyou for write this beautiful story. my dad..was the best mechanic, the most tender, strong man i ever know in this world. He diagnosed with Dementia about 1,5 year ago…while i starting to pursuing my master degree in another city. Its so heartbreaking while i figure out he doesnt remember that i.m leaving home for school. sometimes he still ask me ..where i’m going..
    i just miss my dad..i would give anything to back normal

  37. Having lived through the life, death and in-between of caring for a parent with dementia I want to say thank you for reaching out in this way with your beautiful words and thoughtful insights. Its lonely and frustrating but as I recover from that past I can see all there was to learn.

  38. Thank you. As caregiver for my 94 year old mother, I am on a similar journey.

  39. My grandmother had alzheimer’s disease, and I remember being the only one in a room full of people she remembered. She’d look at me, point to my father, and say, “Who’s that?” Then she’d point to my uncle and on down the line. Finally, she’d say, “Tell Karyn (my mom) I said hello.” I never knew whether to feel sad or happy that my mother and I were the only ones she consistently remembered, but I cherish those memories of her along with the others. Thank you for sharing your story!

  40. Beautiful

  41. stockresearch52

    My mother in law is suffering from dimentia for the past two years.I know how difficult and touchy to understand and explain to others.It is the most
    difficult thing to deal with.I can certainly identify with you. I pray to god to give any one experiencing this sort of situation to deal with it calmly.
    S.Jayaraman

  42. They are lucky to have you and you are lucky to have them!

    Thank you for sharing.

  43. This is a very moving and sensitive description of what it is like to watch a loved one slip away with dimentia. Along with my mother and sister we lived with my grandmother for the last 5 years of her life as her Alzheimers advanced … It is the most difficult thing I have ever had to deal with… In the end she would ask me to tuck her in at night and call me “mommy” I guess her brain did one kind thing for her at that point – it helped her go back to a safe place before she died. Thank you for sharing.

  44. I was touched by your piece about how you have personally experienced the effects on having dealing with your grandfather’s dementia. I always love to see when people have traditional views on family values: I too have also been raised on doctrines which basically are that family are a factor, a foundation to fulfil part of our human pursuit for happiness.

    What I also admire about your blog is the fact that you have given others a window to what is most definitely an intimate part of your family life. My mother has a mental problem – schizophrenia. Almost luckily for me, I have not seen her symptoms at their worst. I can certainly identify with you as her illness has in some ways prevented me, in the past, from getting to know her. With time and some medication, we are en route to bonding now as mother and daughter.

    What troubles me, however, is the fact the in the UK, I do not feel that there is much being done to aid recovery from mental illness. It’s almost taboo to even casually bring up the topic in conversation I have found. Nobody really wants to discuss solutions, just focussing on the problem itself.

    For those that have found this piece equally as moving as myself, and to the the writer of this piece, how do you feel about the NHS’s approach to mental illness in the UK? Would love to hear your views….

  45. This will be very good for you as a healing and coping tool. Keep it up and share your feelings. My mother died “from” Alzheimer’s in 2007 at the age of 68. She stopped being “Mom” five years prior to that. As you know and have read, the true patient(s) are the caregivers–you. Stay strong and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  46. I have not had to deal with the loss of my father or have him even start to slip away yet, he is 62 years old now and the thought comes across my mind that one day he will be gone. I can barely hold back the tears sometimes because of these thoughts. My feelings go out to you and Daddy Pat. Thanks for sharing

    -T

  47. This brought tears to my eyes, and my own grandmother was diagnosed with alzheimer’s about two years ago. You are a lovely writer, thank you for sharing such a personal, moving story.

  48. Un hermoso tributo…gracias por compartirlo con nosotros…

    Que el señor te bendiga y te guarde…vuelva hacia ti su mirada…te muestre su rostro y te de su paz…

    Saludos¡¡¡¡

  49. My mom had dementia. (((hugs)))

  50. Beautiful! I had that kind of relationship with my “Gramma Dort” (Dorothy) I adored her and when she passed a few years ago it was one of the hardest deaths I’ve lived through. But the decline that I witnessed in her, over the years, was sadly just as difficult to bare.

  51. What a touching story, it brought tears to my eyes

  52. Pingback: Special Needs « RangeTracker

  53. Nicely said and done, while a most difficult topic indeed you are starting a very moving tribute.

  54. My mother was diagnosed with dementia last year after a series of strokes that run in her family and she is constantly mad at nearly everyone around her and I am the only one at this point who can get her to calm down and then my father had a series of mini strokes also last year and he is showing some signs as well. Thanks so much for this blog and I will be reading regularly to learn any tips as things progress with my parents

  55. Thanks so much for this. Though dementia is not one of the troubles I deal with, I am the primary caretaker for my 83 year old mother, my 90 year old dad and a 91 year old aunt who’s just been diagnosed with stage four cancer. Knowing there are others out there, loving on some seniors they adore makes my feel less alone as I navigate these waters.

  56. Lovely post. Congrats on being FP, albeit a sad tale for celebration. And, yet again, it is a celebration of his life. Hang in there. My prayers are with you.

  57. Heartbreaking. So beautifully written, and I will stay tuned for part two. Well done on being FP, I’m sure Daddy Pat would be proud.
    P.s Thanks for making me sob like a baby first thing in the morning!

  58. Incredibly touching. Very well-written. Thanks for sharing this. Best to you.

  59. so touching. thanks for sharing.

  60. I want to write a comment…but do not know how to comment on someone’s memories…just felt like saying thanks for sharing “an emotional you”…it was a beautiful read…

  61. My grandmother had dementia. I lost my dad when I was 6 years old and my grandparents stepped in as surrogate parents, too. We share a similar story, it would seem. Your tribute to Daddy Pat made me cry.

    Bless you and your family.

  62. What a beautiful tribute. So tender, so true, and so well told. Thank you for sharing … I wish you strength as you continue this difficult journey.

  63. It must be everyone’s worst nightmare to witness someone you love being slowly dimantled. A nice article about a difficult subject.

    Congratulations on a well deserved freshly pressed. 🙂

  64. It’s stories and thoughts like these that show just how much little things really add up in the long run. Love doesn’t come from money spent but from the time spent with the one you love.
    My M-I-L has dementia and moved in with us 2 years ago….I know the time is coming when I may not be able to take care of her here.
    Just do what you do best…..show him love.

  65. My Mom has dementia and is in a long term care facility which is a 3.5 hour drive for my sister and I but we have another sister that lives where Mom lives now. She is at the point that she sometimes forgets what her eating utensils are for and when my sister and I go to see her she doesn’t know who we are and when we tell her she still doesn’t know. It’s like she know she’s supposed to but just can’t place us.
    I must say that our mother didn’t have an easy life raising 6 children and I don’t recall her being very happy for any length of time. Now when we see her she always has a smile on her face and tells us that she can’t believe that we came just to see her. It’s a sad situation.

  66. I’m in the midst of this right now. I’ve had my Mom living with me for the last 3 almost 4 years. But with the meds these days she’s much easier to handle than your Daddy Pat. Namenda etc. are AWESOME …
    God bless you and I’m so glad you had your Daddy Pat and Mommy Pat to help you thru the years without your Mom. What a blessing they were in your life.

    • The changes/improvements in treatments have come a long way. The changes I’d like to see include more staff training and understanding of the specific needs of each patient. That *is* a lot to ask, but I can dream. Thanks for reading!!

  67. wow it’s amazing

  68. I read a bit of this. I couldnt read it all. My grandad has dementia. He raised me as my Dad. Its such a horrible thing. I couldnt even express how upsetting it is.

  69. Pingback: Very touching tribute to a loved one. « nicenet

  70. He’s the luckiest Grandpa in the world, to have a family who cares! It’s heart breaking to see a loved one slipping away like that. Hugs to you. Congratulations on Freshly Pressed.

  71. Thanks for opening up to share that story with us. It gives me compassion, as well as insight into unchartered, but possibly, inevitable territory.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Not sure that I would have found your story otherwise. 🙂 Be Well!

  72. such a lovely tribute ! your post made me think of my own grandfather, who really had a profound impact on me. i’m thankful i got so many years with him.

  73. i’m really sorry to hear this. my grandfather has dementia too, and it’s really hard watching him go through it. his wife (my gran) sadly passed away in 2005 due to cancer, and ever since his memory’s been getting worse. and it hurts even more that i can’t see him much. i live in england, but my grandfather lives in scotland, so we don’t see each other often. it’s so horrible watching people go through these things, but still, it’s always good to know your not alone. my wishes go out to you and everyone else in the same situation.

  74. My mother passed away in January and had been struggling with Alzheimer’s for several years. I thought I was prepared for her death…but that was foolish thinking on my part. I felt like I had been very attentive while she was alive but am now wishing I had cherished her more while I had her.
    One of the things I used to do for her was to massage her hands with a little hand cream while we sat and talked. She had been widowed several years earlier and I realized that something as simple as a human touch could mean the world to her – and it did. If your Daddy Pat will allow it, you might try that.

  75. You know from other comments on your blogsite that you’re not alone in dealing with a parent with dementia. You might want to read a couple of blogs I wrote about it. The title is not correct – it’s not alzheimer’s – but dementia. Don’t forget to tell your Father every day that you love him.
    http://ahlzheimersathome.wordpress.com/
    Chuck Fetterhoff, Denver

  76. Very touching. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  77. aspiringtobesomeone

    He sounds like he was an awesome man. It’s tough when they start changing… I still remember my grandma talking about how nice her grave was gonna be, because she knew she was going to die. It breaks hearts.

    At least you got to know your grandpa…;)
    -Aspiringtobesomeone

  78. Both my mother’s parents suffered from dementia. The hardest part was after my grandfather died (after more than 60 years of marriage) and my grandmother couldn’t remember that he had died, so she kept asking where he was. Her grief was refreshed too many times. There were differing opinions on whether to tell her the truth every time until it got into her long term memory, or to tell her he was in the bathroom or at a doctor’s appointment and hope that she would get distracted for a while, to save her the feeling of loss.

  79. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. He sounds like a wonderful man. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us.

    -MJ

  80. Your story touches me deeply. I’m going through a similar situation with my mother and have also been blogging about my experiences. For some reason it is freeing to put it in writing. Perhaps it is because I can write about it without crying but haven’t yet learned to talk about it without crying. Feel free to read about my life with a parent with dementia and cancer. My blog is ACircleInThePath.

  81. My Grandpa also died with Alzheimer’s…. I remember the days when he would take me fishing and the times we would lay back on a knoll, telling stories about the clouds passing by….. There might be a bear and an apple, a rabbit or an alligator…. While telling stories, we would be savoring the pink peppermint candies he always kept for us….. The memories are always good…. Thank you for posting on this subject.

    Margaret

  82. Touching story, and beautifully written. Thx for sharing.

  83. I understand your grief and your pain. It is terrible to see this happening to a person you love very, very much.
    My grandmother meant the world to me (still does by the way). Be passed away about 6 years ago now. Rather sudden actually. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor. 6 weeks later she passed away.

    I agree, this is very different from your story, yet the grief and pain it causes is the same.

    As you with your grandfather, I’m very thankful that I was able to spend a lot of time with my grandmother.

    Thank you for sharing this touching story

    • Whether the changes are quick or slow, they are still hard to watch. I’d be willing to say that I had it easier because the changes were slow. I may have been afforded the opportunity to adjust to each change before the next one really took hold. Grandparents are the best!

  84. What a great tribute to your Grandfather. Thanks for sharing.

    Blessings,

    Ava
    xox

  85. Thank you for your sharing your story with us. One thing that gave me a lot of relief as I saw a loved one retreat into dementia and forget me, was an article I read that said that for the person who is going through it, it may indeed be a blessing for to spend consciousness in memory..on another note, some of the memory medication was strange and horrible, my dear friend took some medication and looked around for the baby that was born in 1935, who was standing in front of her, by then a grandmother herself.

  86. As this wise man said, love spelled as T-I-M-E! So better to spend it with the loved once. thanks for your great post

  87. I am now traveling this road. It is heartbreaking and my heart goes out to you and to them. My dad started with dementia about 6 years ago, but since he’s so outgoing no one really knew the extent. My mom was taking care of him and did pretty well until 2010. That’s when I saw her starting to go downhill. She has gone down a lot faster than my dad and they are both in an assisted living facility. Mom doesn’t want to be there. She thinks she can take care of my dad who not only has dementia (she does also), but has a very difficult time walking. Two weeks ago mom fell and has a hairline fracture of her pelvis and is in a lot of pain. heart goes out to her. I live 120 miles away and go there to see them and take care of the house about every 3 weeks.

    So to say I understand what you’re going through is not just sentiment. I honestly do know what you’re going through. I will keep you in my prayers.

  88. My grandmother has alzheimers and the only ones helping her out are me and my parents. Her other children refuse to believe she’s ill and always complains and comment on the way we take care of her. I love my grandma a lot as she took care of me. I was somewhat closer to her then my mother when i was younger. right now, this post made me realise two things.
    1. i never make a point to say hello to her cause she’s always in her room lying in bed and im busy with my schedule. (even though we stay under the same roof)
    2. i want to appreciate her and love her the best i can.

    thank you for sharing this post. really opened my eyes to what an ungrateful grandaugther i am but im going to change that 🙂

    • You are not alone. I find myself focused on taking care of business when I visit my father. Sometimes, he gets mad and says, “Sit down, dammit.” I’ve learned a silent presence means the world to him. Good luck to you. Thanks for reading!

  89. Really moving…….. Looks like you had a great grandpa….Thanks for sharing ………….

  90. My mother suffers from Multi-Infarct Dementia. Your story sounds so much like what I have seen mother go through. She is 86 years old. As bad as it is, my sister and I have seen a wonderful side of my father that we had never seen before. His care and love for her are well beyond what a lot of people would do. A book by Robertson McQuilken is worth reading. It reminds me a lot of Dad…A Promise Kept. It will bring tears to your eyes, but it will help understand what is going on. Thanks for writing this and sharing it with us!

    • Thank you for the book recommendation. If you’d like to write a review of it, we can post it here!!
      It’s amazing what we learn about people when a dementia patient is around. Sometimes it’s scary. Mostly it’s heartwarming.

  91. I really loved your post throughout. Wish things get better for your Grandpa. I could never see mine as he passed away years before I was born; have heard many stories about him though. May be we meet in the afterlife. You simply rock, Keep it up 🙂

    • Thank you so much. My grandfather died in the early 90s. I will write the second part of his story when I can sit down and go without crying long enough to edit it. Otherwise, you might end up reading something like, “dadyalm a odaug love oiaim miss mlsuf a.” LOL

  92. It is the hardest for family members. I was only on the other side of it, as a caregiver. We meet the person with dementia as they are, simplified versions, a refinement of their previous selves. We don’t know them as they used to be, so there’s less to regret. We do regret losing them when they die, because we helped wash, feed and dress them.

    People are capable of giving and receiving love right to the end, and they respond even when they can no longer speak or move. They still smile. They express themselves in their eyes, and in vocalizations. It’s subtle, but you can learn to understand them.

    I don’t personally find dementia to be tragic. It’s natural. We live in a flesh machine. Our technologies have allowed more people to live into very old age. All machines wear out, and bodies and brains aren’t an exception. One in 10 people who reach age 90 will develop dementia, so we had better come to terms with how best to provide care for it. It will be increasing exponentially in the next few decades.

    • There are studies suggesting that dementia is not natural, that’s one of the reasons the term “senile” dementia is considered outdated. I agree, however, that with people living so much longer it gives us more time to do damage to our brains.

  93. My mother became hidden from by a different illness–schizophrenia–but the experience of seeing her disappear is so well reflected in the words you’ve written here. It’s both confusing and terrifying to see someone who’s been such an intrinsic, beautiful part of your life be replaced by someone so different; your words express this so eloquently. Thanks for sharing these. I’ll not only be following the story from here but also passing it along to a friend whose mind is also failing. It might be too raw for her, now, but then again, it might be helpful to see it’s a road none of us walks alone.

    • Thank you for sharing the story with your friend. I hope it helps. I don’t know if I can imagine what you went through with your mother, but I hope you know you’re not alone, even if the experiences aren’t exactly the same.

  94. Perhaps with new medical findings in gene slicing and biomedicine we might someday soon unravel the mysteries of dementia and eliminate it so that not one more soul or person deteriorates into someone without cognizance. It is a terrible affliction. I had a good female friend deteriorate with Jakob Crutchfield disease and it was not pleasant watching the person I knew lose mobility and a cognitive state,it’s not quite the same as dementia per se but
    it’s a close enough kin in it’s effects on the person victimized with it.

  95. My grandmother had dementia and it took a toll on our family. I hadn’t seen her in awhile so when I saw her in this condition all I could do was cry. It’s very difficult and sad to deal with. Thanks for sharing.

  96. This is a beautiful post, and I’m sure very difficult, yet cathartic, to write. My 95 year old grandmother is now suffering from dementia and has been placed in a nursing home. It’s so difficult to see those so vital and vibrant change like this. I am sorry for your losses and will be watching for the second half of your story. 🙂

  97. What a touching post. Thanks for sharing.

  98. My husband, 54, was recently diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimers. God bless you and yours.

  99. My grandfather was the best too so that makes me feel a little bit competative towards your statement that you had the best. My paternal grandfather was a superintendent of schools in CT and MA before he retired. He had a bird feeder and a little garden out back. He wore suspenders and he always told us pretty much the same story about a rabbit in his garden. He was always kind. I think that maybe he had a little clock that would tick quietly in his bedroom. He and my grandmother had two twin beds in their room.

  100. So touching. And so helpful to many.

  101. Grandparents are a blessing and the relationship I have with my grandmother is one of the most important in my life. She is still one of the most comforting people I know without even trying. Since I can remember, whenever I hug her I make it a point to breath in her perfume and feel her hair against my cheek. It smells like home.

  102. A very moving tribute. Your grandpa and you were lucky to have spent a good time together.

  103. hello i have great to see your blog by random visit in my internet .
    i think that your dady and your mother are very nice.
    i whish become one of your freinds and i begin create my blog but is very bad and i not understand to let my blog very important i want please your help. this is my bad blog : hamidos.blogs.linkbucks.com
    thank you my freind

  104. The relation of ours and our grandparents is always warm, rich in emotions, and yet very light and delightful.

  105. Beautiful! What a wonderful assimilation of memories, good bad and the ‘ugly’! I really get to understand the emotional depth in a person like you! Its Amazing! I’ve lost my Grandfather a long time back but after reading this, I wish he was there beside though!

  106. Somehow *like* doesn’t seem right for this story. Thank you for sharing, you’ve made me think about how important my own family is, and how I should try harder with my siblings.

  107. What a powerful tribute! My blog shares the story of my recovery from bipolar disorder, so these kind of posts touch me deeply. Thanks so much for sharing. I look forward to reading the next part of your story.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed. And hang on for the ride!

    Kathy

  108. What a beautiful tribute, I am sure that Daddy Pat would be very proud. I also saw a close member of my family taken by Dementia. It is a horrible thing to watch.

  109. That has to be so difficult. We’re not sure yet, but we may be traveling this road with my grandmother. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Good luck to you. I highly recommend researching some of the legal issues around this: medical power or attorney, financial power or attorney, etc, if she doesn’t already have that in place.

  110. You have my sympathy. My father has alzheimers and had a stroke and cannot communicate as he once did. It is so sad to see a shell of the men they once were.

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