Forget-Me-Not, Dear Father
The story of us has evolved - from the four of us, to the six of us - my husband and me, my sister and her husband, and our parents. My sister and I had a good life while growing up, thanks to our parents. We both feel it's now our turn to ensure they spend their latter years surrounded by love and support. Therefore, we all moved to the same multi-generational property in Camas last Fall.
For us, the key to making this work is privacy and cooperation. We consult each other on important matters that involve all of us, and try to give one another the space we need to breath. Admittedly, while we wait for our parents cottage to be built, it's not ideal at the moment, but we make it work. A good sense of humor, patience, and the knowledge of of "end in sight" is helpful.
My dad has dementia and it comes with mood swings and moments of frustration. He's still lucid enough to remember us all, and generally knows what's going on. However, it's sad to watch his impatience with himself when he loses a thought or a word. He often repeats himself as if stuck in a loop, especially if he's stressed or over tired. Things that used to be easy take time.
Mom needs us as much as he does. The illness is often just as difficult for a spouse as it is for the person affected by memory loss. We all work to jog his memory with stories and frequently mention the names of friends and family members. We try not to remind him of his inability to remember things and pretend as if we've heard a story or suggestion for the first time, rather than the fourth or fifth. The moods swings take love and understanding.
My dad's younger sister and her family came to visit us yesterday. They live north of us in the Seattle area. It was good to relive old memories, and when we couldn't recall a place or name, we laughed at the normal momentary memory loss most experience as we age. What a juxtaposition I thought to myself, we're sharing old memories, making a new memories, and visiting together while we can all be remembered. Tears flowed when they left amid exchanges of " I love you's." "Life moves too damn fast," someone said.
Sunday's are family day at our multi-generational household and we'll be hosting dinner for everyone at our place this evening. I'm not sure what's on the menu yet, as I'm still honoring the feelings of my bittersweet mood this morning. I'm overall grateful though, and happy to be here. I'm certain none of us will ever regret this time spent as a family, together again. I love you mom and dad.