I can’t believe I’ve already reached the 100th post milestone but today is the day! This project is truly a labor of love, and I’ve met (virtually, anyways) so many great people in the blogosphere, many who are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. My deepest thanks to all of the advocates out there and my deepest admiration for all of the tireless caregivers around the world.
An image has been on my mind this week, and it is of my dad’s hands in the last years of his life. They were bony, with veins poking out just beneath the thinly stretched skin. There were age spots mottling the flesh and his fingers were cool and clammy to the touch. I doubt that I had held my dad’s hands, or even taken notice of them, since I was a little girl who needed help crossing the street.
When dementia began to creep into our family, there’s a photo of us on the couch at my parent’s house, and my dad is gripping my hand so tightly, as if he’s afraid of letting go in more than just a physical sense.
In that final year of my dad’s life that was spent in the nursing home, my dad couldn’t say much, so holding his hand was one of the only ways I could still connect to him. I remember watching his hands, twitching with a bit of a tremor, lift a cup of hot coffee to his lips and sip tentatively. Then he reached out the cup to me.
“Do you want some,” he asked, with a polite innocence that was heartbreaking.
Of course, being me, my mind raced with the thoughts of germs and how I would be able to get out of this awkward moment. I thanked him and held on to the cup, until he was ready for his next sip. It took him so much effort to do something he once received great enjoyment out of. Alzheimer’s strikes again.
There’s a tenderness that many caregivers offer those with Alzheimer’s and it can greatly improve quality of life. I just wish that I had shown a little more tenderness while my dad was still aware enough to appreciate it.