Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Father's Day without a Dad

Once upon a time, I had a dad. Just like the title of this blog.  And yes, when I started the blog, my dad was still physically with me. But the second someone is diagnosed with dementia, it's as if they start very slowly moving down a tunnel away from you.  I knew nothing about Alzheimer's at that point, but I knew enough to steal the lyrics from a Jane's Addiction song to title my blog.  "I turned around and found my daddy gone.  He was the one who made me what I am today.  It's up to me now, my daddy has gone away." (video is NSFW in lyrics or images)
Father's Day has ceased to be a holiday for me.  I think it stopped in 2004, the last time we really CELEBRATED.  Because the very next day, my dad got diagnosed and this blog came into existence.   So to me, Father's Day isn't about a happy time with my dad. It's more like the LAST time with my dad, if it makes any sense.
We are a fatherless and grandfatherless family.  My dad died in 2007. My husband's dad died in 1972 when he was just a wee pup. (He never had a dad--I shouldn't whine, because I had one for 39 years.)  My mom's dad, my beloved grandpa, died in 1987 and his dad died in 1979.  My grandma's still alive, but her dad died before I was born.  My dad's dad died before I was born.  One of my husband's grandpas died when he was a teenager; the other was never in the picture (there was a step-granddad there, but he died in the 1990s). So, in any direction you look from me, no dads.  Only my sister-in-law's fiance has a dad (but  her brother's fiance lost hers when she was a teenager).  I guess we all have to adopt Rudy's father! 
So basically Father's Day is a non-holiday.  We don't discuss it.  We don't celebrate it.  It's as if it's a holiday from another faith--like Ramadan or Chanukah, we know it's happening for other people, but not for us. I'm having a little gathering this weekend and I was astonished that some people can't come because of Father's Day. It's that far off my radar.
I'm sure other people choose to use Father's Day (and Mother's Day) as a day to memorialize their loved ones with dementia, past and present.  But for my family, we lived it, and we like to just let it lie most of the time.  If the subject comes up naturally, we talk about my father, but we never force it.
Love and memory should never be forced.
Happy Father's Day to all those who celebrate, and a nod to those, like me, who have chosen to leave it behind.


Bobbi said...

Hi. I lost my mom to Alzheimers a year ago this month. She was only 75 years old. Mother's day this year was tough for me. I still have my dad. My mother-in-law has been diagnosed with the disease and is in a care facility. Feeling your pain...Bobbi S.
How do I get to you on Twitter? I am @BobbiPlum.

debora.mack said...

My father has been dead over 12 years, however, I still celebrate to honor my husband and son. Mother's Day was difficult because it is my Mom who has Alzheimer's and it was her first in a nursing home. Sisters and I are having a very difficult time with the nursing home concept, yet it has gotten better over the last few months. I can relate your experience with your father urinating in the corner, my Mom would get up in the middle of the night asking "Where is the chambers?" Do you realize I have not heard that word used since the 1960's?

GBP })i({ said...

Hi Bobbi, I am @missbert on Twitter.

hadley said...

My father died of AD last November. This Father's Day, a lot of people reached out to me aware that I am still fragile when it comes to the loss of my dad. But, honestly, my WORST memories are spending Father's Day (or any holiday) with him in the memory care unit where he spent his last two years of his life,pretending he had clue what the celebration was even about. I was actually thankful that neither us have to go through that torture anymore. I miss him - but, as you wrote Bert, faking it and forcing it was brutal.

Desmin said...

Hi, I just recently lost my Grandmother in June. She was 84 and diagnosed with this disease a few years back. Im just getting aquainted with raising awareness. I really don't know where to start..but it would help a lot if you liked my facebook page - "Raising Awareness For Alzheimer's Disease" I would like to learn more about this disease and also teach others, eventually making this world-wide but i cannot do this alone. Every opinion counts :)