Add new comment

My wife's family is beginning the process of caring for her parents. Her father, nicknamed "Big Red", because of his heart, not his size, has Senile Dementia and her mother, Martha, has advanced Lyme disease and crippling arthritis. These two were known and loved for many things around their small town. Leadership, coaching football, swimming, mentoring, motherhood and fatherhood role models for their 6 children and most of the towns kids, too. Red could tap dance until he was 75. Martha was a great dancer with great legs until she was 80. Now, Big Red shuffles aimlessly and Martha can barely walk at all.
This summer, they will return from New Orleans, where they live with their youngest son, and move back into their summer house, next to ours. We will eat all meals with them, give them their medicine, and lock them in at night. Then, we will watch out our window until the last light is out before we can go to bed. They think they are "living independently". They are failing weekly. Big Red, my father in law and my hero, is already gone mentally. We will have to make hard decisions reluctantly and soon. This is what I wrote about him today:

Where is My Father?

Where is my father?
He is not here.
He has left this world
and us, we fear.

He walks and talks
and asks us where
he lives and why
he is not there.

He tries to leave
his own house and wife
To find his mother
who left this life.

He says we are not his
we beg him stay
he hides his meds
and sneaks away.

We follow him
as he wanders
down the road
to places yonder

He stops and stares
as through town he roams
But this is not his town
so we bring him home.

"Who is that woman?"
He asks in tears.
"It is your wife
of 50 years"

That is not her
mine was younger
I must go find her
not stay here longer.

We calm him down
and take him to his bed
and watch in the darkness
until he rests his head.

His wife crawls in
and holds him fast
He weeps and hugs her
and sleeps at last.

Tomorrow is
another day
like the last one
We fear and pray.

We ask God's help
but know not what to ask
to make him better
or make this his last...

Day on earth
So he can rest
and meet his maker
and feel his best

Where are my fathers?
Both in heaven above.
Some day I'll join them
Reunited in love.

-- written by the son-in-law of a man with Senile Dementia
whom he calls father.
April 27, 2010