A Defining Moment with Dad

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A Defining Moment with Dad

My father is a gentle and polite person with an impressive career and decorated sporting background. However, he has had to endure a form of early onset dementia for well over a decade. His prime caregiver is my mother, who we believe has managed to slow my father's deterioration by keeping him mentally stimulated with a pre-arranged activity every day of the week. Of course, this strategy also cares for my mother, as it gives here peace of mind that my father has a reason to get up each day. Just as importantly, it buys her valuable personal time to do something for herself.

But each time the deterioration reveals another unexpected issue to face, my mother's determination becomes threatened, and needs it own caring. The most significant and recent issue was when my father began experiencing a mild form of alcohol abuse and associated deviant behavior. After a difficult but seemingly successful battle, my mother recognized that she needed a break. I took a week off from my life and took over the caring role at our vacation home.

Apart from wanting to help my mother, I also took on the role in the hope that my father and I could share a moment that bonded us. I would build him a wood shed that would help him with his continuing sense of responsibility to cut and store firewood. In 'true-blue' father and son style, our joint work would create a bond that opened a moment of reflection that I could treasure forever. Well, we did occasionally work together, but dad's attention and physical ability wavered, and after a few minutes I would find him returning to his sun couch or sitting inside staring into space. Maybe there were moments where I felt a subtle bond, but I soon realized that my expectations were unrealistic.

Meanwhile, I cooked, cleaned and answered hundreds of questions such as 'where does this go', 'will I take the rubbish out' and 'when did you say you were leaving?' Each day I saw every channel of television news viewed back to back. I realized that without a reminder the same pair of underpants can be worn an infinite number of times, and that best clothes can be worn to mow the lawn and clothes covered in stains can be worn out to dinner.

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