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My father also would have wanted to be "hit by a truck" (his preferred method of leaving us) if he lost his intellectual capacity, the thing he built his identity around.  And now he has lost it, but he's also lost the ability to care.  There's a sweetness and a vulnerability about him that was missing all the years when he was aggressive, angry, disdainful and intellectual.  Dignity is not overrated, but it how OTHERS treat you, not present in you.  You can carry yourself well or poorly, but others choose whether or not to give you the respect that everyone deserves.  My father now lives in a retirement community where the staff treats everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of their behavior.  He is lucky to have the financial means to buy good care.  

I am not ready to lose him.  As challenging as his personality has always been, he was wise about many things and always a good story teller.  Like Alanna, I fear I will be next.  I scrutinize my life and my behavior and try to do things that will make things easier for my children if that time comes.  I practice gratitude and am trying to reach out in love.  I am pretty sure that I will also lose the ability to be critical, but I do want to be nicer to my kids than my father was to us.