Saturday, September 02, 2006

94 lost dad

In spite of all my metaphysical training I can only feel punished by all this. I can only think "why me" and understand why there is religion, why ancient man looked for gods to give meaning to life's stupid shit. And as nice as it is to think the gods never give us more than we can handle--I'd like to be handling a little less right now if you don't mind.
My mom finished last week's puzzle without me. Which is fine. She saved it for me, and I decided to save it permanently and hang it on the wall (I bought the set of 3 with the intent of saving at least 1 of them). So this morning I headed out at 9:00 a.m. to the bank for cash and to the craft store for puzzle glue then to the grocery store for food. I saw a maroon Hyundai in the parking lot with a very familiar license plate so I parked next to it, and then looked up to see my parents coming out of the door. I gave the glue to my mom and said I'd be over in about an hour to glue the puzzle. My dad helpfully told me where to go to find the Dunkin Donuts inside and buy a coffee. I hate coffee. Oh well.
I did my shopping and headed to my parents', getting there around 10:15. Of course my mom had already put 2 coats on the puzzle so there was no need for me to have come over at all. In fact she'd used the whole bottle up and was finishing it with mod-podge decopague stuff (which we used last year to make wooden tiles for fortunetelling).
Since I hadn't seen the cat the night before, I went downstairs to look for him. He was on his shelf, sleeping on the little quilt my mom made him, next to....a pile of Ritz crackers. At the back of the shelf was an open box of Ritz. I asked my mom about the crackers. Maybe the cat likes them, who knows? Our first cat Nippy loved potato chips. Nutter loves corn on the cob and Zen loved blueberry muffins. But apparently the cat doesn't like Ritz. Who knows what my dad was thinking when he left them there for him.
The cat was in a good mood, purring and happy. My mom ate the crackers. Then the beastly dog came downstairs barking and whining and jumping on my mom while she was holding Jasper so Jasper freaked out and the dog got yelled at and the newspaper got slapped against the floor but the dumb dog doesn't get it.
My dad followed me out to the car and started freaking out about my headlights. There's some foglights that I've never used and could care less about and he has a fixation with them. I explained that everything works fine at night but it's daytime so I don't need them. "They don't work?!" He says incredulously. He hears what he wants to. I explain, again, that I don't use them in the daytime, but he doesn't get it.
His anti anxiety/anti depressant medication ran out and their primary care doctor is on vacation for another week. Obviously it was working and now it's worn off. I told my mom to call the doctors at Yale and get it from them like she did the first time. But it's Labor Day weekend and she can't get them until Tuesday.
I went home, put away the groceries, made lunch, had lunch, hung out reading with the cat for awhile. At 1:45 my grandmother called. She talked to Will. He said she was hysterical and crying, that my dad took off "across the park" and my mom couldn't find him. We piled into the car and drove to my dad's last known location. But there's no park on that street so that didn't help much. I called my mom's cell phone; of course it was off. I called the house; they weren't home. We checked for my mom's car at my grandma's complex; wasn't there. Drove to the park around the corner, they weren't there. Then my mom called to say they were home.
She told me 2 different versions of what happened. In the first version, my grandmother gave my dad some puzzle pieces that he couldn't put together and he got angry. In the 2nd version my grandmother took away my dad's pieces and he got angry. Either way, he left--that's what he's been doing lately, leaving when he's pissed off. He yelled at my mom (what else is new) and walked across the field (not a park) and my mom got him into the car and home.
My grandma flat out told me I was lying when I called her back (thank all the GODS for cell phones) and that I had to go to my mom's and see for myself that he was home and safe. I dropped Will off and went to my parents' house.
My dad just stood in the doorway and stared at me. It was very disconcerting. Then when I came in he said something to me about "going to jail" but I wasn't sure if he meant I was going to jail or he was. I played with the dog again, played with the cat. Mom said she'd already called grandma but I called again and told her everything was okay. She answered "I hope so" in a very un-hopeful tone of voice.
Mom told me that my dad had given her his money and said he was going to go kill himself. He threatens this all the time now.
She let the cat out and then the dog. I was in the garden playing with the cat and my dad came out with his coat on. He's been freaking out because there's a small stain on the coat, his favorite coat, which he claims to have had for 25 years. My mom asked him where he was going and he didn't answer. So we figured he was just hanging out outside with us.
I left, headed home. As I was walking in the phone was ringing. It was my mom. My dad took off on foot. I got back into the car and went back there. I told her to call the police.
One of the neighbors said they'd seen him heading up the hill. So I drove up the hill, to the center of town, in a big loop through Choate and back. Then I did an extra loop down to Community Pool and back on Route 5 just in case the neighbors were lying. I got back to my mom's just as the police arrived. I called Will to say I needed him with me. It's hard to drive and look. I really wanted to talk to people I saw walking too. My mom talked to one cop in the house and I was describing my dad to the other 2 cops. Neighbors were driving by gawking and listening. The cops said I should keep looking too. I was turning my car around when the guy across the street came running out with his hand up and his cordless phone to his ear. He said his wife found my dad by Walmart and she was with him. I told him to go into the house and tell the cop with my mom and I'd go see if I could get him. I remembered that his wife had driven by when I was describing my dad. Apparently she just went off and looked for him. If I had gone past community pool I would have found him myself.
As I drove by Walmart I was thinking that I should have gotten more precise instructions than "behind Walmart" when I saw a maroon SUV driving very slow with its hazards on. In front of it was my dad, trudging along. I pulled next to him and told him to get in the car. He first said "why?" and then said "I'm just going along with a smile on my face" and he grimaced and kept walking. In the rearview mirror I could see the police car coming with its lights and sirens on. I said "we called the police, they are coming to get you." The cop took charge and told my father they would see how fast his cruiser could go. He took all his gear out of the front seat and put my dad there. I thought that was so kind of him, not to make him ride in the back like a criminal.
I thanked the neighbor profusely and headed back to my mom's again. All the cops had come back already--they probably hadn't gotten very far. They really wanted to bring my dad to a hospital. I think that would have freaked him out. And what would it have done? He needs his medicine.
I stopped and bought a bag of Halloween candy on the way home. Sometimes I just need chocolate.
In good news, my mom told me yesterday at lunch that at the end of the study, all the participants who got the placebo will be given the real drug at no charge. I guess that's good news and the drug is working. But is my dad on it right now? We won't know for another year or so.
I just called the study office at Yale and got the pager number of the head doctor. But my mom doesn't want to "bother" him. ARGH. My dad just freaked out and took off TWICE in one day. It's not a bother for a doctor with an established relationship to my dad to call in a prescription for him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gevera--What a day! You must be exhausted. I think this post should be required reading for anyone who doesn't realize how hard it is to take care of someone with Alzheimer's Disease. Your Dad is lucky to have you and your Mom is lucky to have you. I hope you can get some rest now.