My Dad stood in the room when I told my Mom I was pregnant. With tears in her eyes, she showed him the ultrasound pictures and asked me a million questions. He nodded and thought it was cool but I could see the disconnect in his eyes. Once they made it to their own home that night, he asked my Mom when they were going to the hospital to see the baby, he didn’t want to be late. The next day, when my brother came over, my Dad asked him where the baby was. Why couldn’t my brother go home and get the baby? Dad had a baby stuck in his brain, he just didn’t know the who, what or when behind it.
Since then he will have obsessive days when he constantly wants to know where the baby is or asks to go see it. Mom shows him ultrasound pictures and explains but you can tell it only sinks in so far and then he gets distracted by something else.
At 55, Alzheimer’s is slowly eating away at him. A disease that my family knows all to well. This is where I should write about how sad it is that my Dad, who hardly recognizes me, will not know my child, his grandchild. This is where I should mention that I pray every night that he just holds in there a bit longer to see my child. But if I wrote all that it would be a lie.
I didn’t grow up with this fairy tale Daddy/daughter story in my life. My Dad continued to drink more as I got older and it killed our relationship. It also brought on the Alzheimer’s sooner than necessary. He requires care 24 hours a day at home which requires a nurse to be with him when my Mom is not and requires my Mom to have no other life unless she can find a babysitter. That is what it is. A babysitter, for her husband, so she can come with my sister and I to pick out furniture or else he would probably burn down the house.
A few weeks ago my Grandmother presented the question that more and more people continue to ask. Don’t you just pray your Dad holds on till the baby is born? I don’t sugar coat my quick “no.” My Dad is gone. The man who raised us, taught me to fish, fought with me after he drank too much, argued politics, fixed everything around the house, shared memories of his old racing days, he is gone. What is left is a shell of his body and the occasional thought that pops into his head. He might even start forming a sentence on that thought but then it turns into babble because his brain can’t handle it. And here is the kicker, nothing will change any of that, there is no cure and there won’t be anytime soon to save him.
As with any disease, that has no cure or relief, it wears on a family. The constant battles, the ups and downs, him destroying the house, the financial burden, and so on. If my Dad knew how he truly was now he would be not only mortified but would rather be dead than alive. I would feel the same way. I think most would. The quality of life is gone. That is Alzheimer’s though. You start grieving the loss of the person long before their body follows.
I honestly never pictured taking my child back to my parents home and having my Dad be there. Some think he would be fascinated by a baby but that fascination would merely last minutes before he was cussing at her or dropping something on her. There are a million things that could honestly go wrong and the stress of it wouldn’t be worth it. It would be safer to keep my baby away from him than near him.
There is truth in life and sometimes it hurts. I know some people can’t imagine their parents dying anytime soon, let alone not having them around to meet their grand kids, but my truth is different.