“The old television series ‘Cheers’ theme song has been on my mind a bit lately. In the lyrics there is the line, ‘where everybody knows your name’. That rings so true and loudly for me.
Being known and being seen are such an integral part of the human experience. People WANT to be known, they WANT to be acknowledged, they WANT to be greeted and they WANT to feel validated. A lot of this is acknowledged when we show up, greet a person and call them by their name. It makes a difference. It means something.
Until they forget your name.
Yesterday was such a day for me. The man who gave me my name, could no longer remember it. The man who calls me ‘his world’, forgot who I was. The man who lights up like a moonbeam when he sees me, didn’t know if I was his wife, mother or daughter.
Of course, the girls (my adult daughters) were with me, so that helped tremendously. Especially when your eldest is in the back of the car squealing with delight at seeing the new born lambs, and then mimics their ‘baaaaa’ full force, causing her Poppa to laugh – belly laugh! It helps me to know that I am not alone in this. That my children and my husband are feeling it too.
Although, he remembers my ‘tall’ son and what his name is. He remembers my husband for his belly and his work ute! Dad is a card indeed!
I haven’t actually released a blog on dementia and the horrible effects of it, since last year. I was determined that I wasn’t going to write anymore about it, but it turns out this is my catharsis and I need to get this out of me before grief consumes the good in my world.
Make no mistake, I am grieving. I have been for over three years now. I have been utterly consumed with guilt for being the child that had to lock up her Dad. I am through that now, but there are days when it’s all consuming. ‘Why did it have to be me? Why aren’t the boys (my brothers) more involved? Why
don’t they check up on me and see how I am doing with all of this? Why do I have to be the one who does everything for Dad? Why, why, why?’
It’s a vicious circle, one that embitters the soul and causes great anxiety, depression and the propensity to make one harsh and demeaning. I can’t afford any of that anymore. People will only do what they want to do and no more.
I am deeply saddened that I often find Dad in his room in complete disarray now. I sometimes have to remind him to finish getting changed. I am saddened that his pride and arrogance still lurks in the deepest recesses of his brain and he is unable to ask for help with his self-care. It is this very issue that has caused the greatest stress and changes in his life. The very reason that he’s in the ward called Psycho-Geriatric. With the most aggressive and physically violent dementia patients. And yet Dad is usually so kind and gentle. Remnants of a bygone era where Dad’s winning personality and smile caused him to get away with blue murder!!
So, as much as I grieve and cry over the fact that Dad doesn’t remember my name, I am deeply grateful that I still can cause a smile on his face, and that he loves me.
In the end, all we have is Love.