This Is What It Feels Like To Move Your Father Into A Home For People With Dementia
It's kind of like being a new kid in first grade.
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I just dropped my father off at an assisted living, memory care facility. It was time. It was hard. It was strangely akin to taking my old dogs to the vet to be “put to sleep.” Except that this was my father. Someone who has been in my life, almost since I was born. Yes, I was adopted. And I was fortunate that he chose me. Right now, a sense of indebtedness, responsibility and sadness is certainly coursing through my person.
With tears in my dad’s eyes, it is apparent that he is realizing that he will never go back to having his own space or that privilege most take for granted — independence.
And as an aside, I think we all acknowledge that social media is most often about social peacocking. And the really important stuff often surrounds difficult, embarrassing situations. I know my life is not better than yours. It is tough as well. I understand that for there to be roses, there must be thorns. It is how we manage those thorns that really matters. And that is where social media should deliver. When we are vulnerable and let our true selves be seen, we connect in a very real manner. Being vulnerable is where honesty is built. And community. And empathy. And it is a reminder of what is precious.
I feel pretty awful right now. And yet, I know this move to an assisted living facility is a long-term proposition that will help not only my dad, but our family, get through this next (last?) chapter in his life with some grace.
As I sat with him in his new space and we both hold back tears, I try to get a sense of what he is feeling. And I remembered a time in first grade. My first day.
I knew very few kids. The school was completely new to me. I was scared. I was lonely. The sense of personal precariousness was as extreme as any feeling like it I have had before or since. On that first day, at lunch, all of the kids at our table were given small cups of ice cream. There were 10 kids. 10 cups of ice cream. And only 9 wooden spoons. Yes, I was the odd kid out.
Instead of asking for a spoon, I cried. Profusely. I was crying so hard, I could not speak. Fortunately, my teacher was intuitive and caring enough to figure out what was going down. Sure, I got my spoon. But not having a spoon was not the problem. It was just a metaphor for not having my dad there with me.
I missed him. And as this awful disease thieves his brain, I miss him again.
Danny Rosin is co-president and co-founder of Brand Fuel.
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