When faced with life as it ebbs, I think our instinct is to pull back, look away. Find any and every reason to not even think about it. Not for a second. But slowly we always come back to it. Like driving by an accident, somehow you can’t tear your eyes away. Taking in the wreckage and the mayhem. Tonight I looked at the shell of the man I know and love as my father. Gone was the sharp tongue and quick wit. Instead there was silence. This man who towers over me in my psyche was reduced to a mere model. I guess this has been coming for a while. I knew someday this reality would look me in the eye. But tonight, rather than look away I stared it down. Sadness slipped in. It slowly and surely enveloped me. I didn’t fight it. I let it settle there around me. When I left and was alone I cried. I thought of how badly I wished for a harsh comment, or criticism, anything but this silence. I had come to understand the bullish guy he usually was, but this, I did not understand this. My father always commanded attention, and could be the center of the party. His charisma and intelligence made him a magnet for all types. Usually the weird, quirky types, but also artistic and brilliant people. He lived his life fast and hard. Making money, spending money and taking risks. He loved a gamble, and rolled the dice often. Many times luck smiled down on him and he walked away grinning. As the economy shifted, so did his luck. Those gambles didn’t turn out so well. The past few years have been very hard on him. Maybe that plays into why he has changed so much.
My brain reeled from the evening. I drove home deeply sorrowful. How does one come to terms with losing such a huge part of their life, whether an actual loss, or an absence through cognitive decline? His mom was lost to Alzheimer’s at this same age. First forgetting things, like where she put her purse, and later becoming completely silent, content to stack pennies over and over. She could do that for hours. I have read that this kind of simple repetitive exercise is common. When everything else around them disappears they become almost child like. I fear this most, losing him to that fog. Grandma would go months, and would randomly have a day where she was cognizant of her surroundings, and of who we were. But as fast as it appeared, it would disappear again. Nobody seems to know why it is like this, and I think it is the worst part of the disease. I can’t stand the thought of him departing into the twilight. This man who burned so bright and hot for all these years. No, not like this.