de-men-tia, dementia….

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On May 26, 2016, my dad will turn 95 years young. Though if you were to ask him his age today, he’d probably tell you he was already there, among a few other claims, such as his mental capabilities not being nearly as sharp as they really are. We all have excuses to explain our behaviors at times, but I can’t help but find how his go-to excuse could be applicable if it weren’t so laughable.

Last week my dad was feeling under the weather and as a precaution, I chose to spend the night at his house, in case he had any trouble during the night. Thankfully, he did not. In fact, the first night, he admonished me for getting up to check on him so many times. Little does he know, sleeping on a makeshift foam mattress made it very easy not to sleep too soundly, but I digress. Each morning before I’d leave, I’d help him get dressed and then feed him breakfast. As per what had become our morning ritual, he would then apologize to me for having dementia. “Dad, you don’t have dementia,” I would reply.”I don’t know Marsh, I think I do have that damned dementia,” He’d say, standing firm in his beliefs. Trying not to laugh at him, I always replied, “Dad, that’s like a catch-22 and believe me, you do not have dementia”.

*****

Once he began to feel better, together we determined it was no longer necessary for me to spend the night. However, he still liked me to stop by each morning and help him get dressed. “Marsha, this dementia is really getting to me…” He’d say nearly every morning. “Dad, you don’t have dementia, honestly, you don’t,” I replied. “I don’t know Marsha, there are many times lately where I forget stuff,” He explained. “Dad, if you have dementia, then you’re making the rest of us look bad…” I replied.

*****

Sunday morning I called over wondering what time he needed me to show up and he replied, “I’m almost back to normal now Marsh. Thank you, but you don’t need to stop down.” “Oh, well okay. But if you change your mind…” I replied before saying goodbye to him. A little later in the day, my sister Ann Marie called and said, “Dad wanted me to call and explain how grateful he’s been that you were around to help him this past week, but now that he’s better…” “Okay, that’s fine,” I replied. In the background, I heard my father ask Ann, “Is that Marsha on the phone?” “Yes Dad, I’m telling her why she doesn’t have to come over in the mornings for you…” Ann Marie replied to him. “Good, but Ann, tell Marsha not to give up on me, dementia’s not too far away…”

Together Ann Marie and I both began to laugh. “Oh my God, he’s told me all week long how he has dementia, Ann Marie. He’s so funny and clueless,” I laughed into the telephone receiver. Over her laughter, I could hear him say something to her which caused her to laugh again, “He’s giving me an example to share with you, so you’ll believe he has dementia, Marsha… He ran his dishwasher the other night without soap. He forgot to put the soap in the dispenser so he must have dementia,” She said and then laughed louder before replying, “Dad, I guess that means I have dementia too…” “Ann Marie, tell him I’ve run the same load of dishes three times…THREE TIMES, before realizing the same clean load got run over and over again”. I said laughing as she relayed my lack of attention to clean dishes detail.

******

This morning I took my dad to the dentist. He called me three times yesterday to make sure I remembered the appointment. Afterward, he asked if I would take him to get a breakfast sandwich. As we approached the drive-thru he said, “I think I forgot my wallet…” “No worries dad, I got this,” I replied adding, “Quoting my dear mother, it’s better that you owe me than cheat me out of it…” Which made him laugh. “You’re right, but I don’t like that I left the house without my wallet, must be that dementia again,”. “Dad, are you sure you forgot your wallet?” I asked which caused him to reach into his pocket and pull the darn thing out. “Well what do you know, I didn’t forget the wallet, only that I had it on me. Damned dementia…”

Sigh, tell me, how many people do you know who argue with their parents over the fact that they do not have dementia…only a normal, albeit 95-year-old brain. To tell you the truth, if I have the same mental faculties today, that he has, I may actually get somewhere in life.

 

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