So how did Dad get this way?
As far as we can tell Dad’s memory started to slip right after he finishedBye George. It was fairly subtle at first, forgetting where he put things, not remembering something in his past, forgetting people’s names. It was what would probably be considered normal dimentia.
Dad was always a great story teller. Anytime he got up to give a speech he would always tell a joke or story. Usually Mom played a ficticious role, and usually reacted with a smile and eye roll. So we knew that when Dad started to repeat stories that his memory was going south. Then he started repeating questions, and it became more obvious. And given his genes, we knew where it was headed.
Soon he couldn’t drive anymore, which may have been due as much to his macular degeneration than his memory loss. He would forget where he was going – I remember him getting lost in the World Dairy Expo parking lot, only to be “rescued” by a nice guy on a golf cart who brought Dad back to the Coliseum. Then he forgot the names of long-time friends, then family members, then his kids.
I always saw Dad as the consumate public relations person, and I think that’s how he was able to hide the slide to the outside world for so long. But after awhile it was obvious.
I often wonder what he was thinking, and how he was feeling, as he felt his memory slip away. At some point he had to realize that it was happening, and he had to know where it was headed. I admire my Dad for a lot of things, but I probably admire him most for the way he faced the impending “fog”. He didn’t complain or wonder why he had been chosen for this fate. Being in his shoes, I’m not sure I could face it the same way.
Because now that Dad’s in his fog, he’s not at all the same person he was. The person represented by my Dad’s body is technically my Dad. But the person who was my Dad left long ago.