I was 12 years old when my father became interested in sailing. He loved being near or on the water, and I think sailing to the wind fed his fascination with mathematical angles. He taught me to sail as a young teen, and its hold has never let go. I married a sailor. We live on boats half the year.
My brilliant father was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia (a frontotemporal dementia) several years ago. The disease progressed slowly until my sister’s death 2-1/2 years ago. After Amy’s death, the disease progressed at a rapid pace, and a year ago we moved him to a locked memory care unit where he would be safe. It’s been a tough year. There has been steady decline.
Last month was brutal. It was one crisis following another. I have learned much about dementia and what a “late stage of life” brain does to a body that is still physically healthy.
I flew home to help manage my father’s care and to be with my mother just ahead of what turned out to be Grand Rapids area’s 4-day winter storm. My father was transferred back to his memory care apartment (from the hospital) with hospice care. His condition was stable and I had every intention to stay hunkered down at home while the storm raged through the area. However, 24 hours later I received a call from my dad’s facility letting me know that there had been a rapid change in his condition, that they had contacted hospice. My niece and I were with him when he quietly slipped away, just quit breathing, in the early morning hours of January 31st.
I will miss my dad, but there are things worse than death. I am grateful that he is relieved of the dementia that tormented him. And I am ever so grateful for the love and respect he taught us for our waters–his legacy–that we have passed on to our children.
Rest In Peace, Dad…
My daughter makes me suspect that having me around for so long is a blessing for her. Obviously having your Dad for so long it was a blessing for you!
He is finally asleep. His trials of passage complete.
Thank you so much for your letter.
PS This night (TUESDAY) we get more than a foot of snow and I’m well up past my knees in the back yard. Sailor is trapped.
A very touching piece, Jo.
It reminds me of my dear wife Fern. She passed away 6 years ago, in the earlier stages of dementia, after 60 years of marriage. I still miss her every day, but I’m able to regard it as a blessing that she was taken, by a pulmonary embolism, before the dementia progressed further.
Warm regards to you and Ron.