Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2 Months Later

Frank Sinatra came onto my Pandora radio station the other day, and I realized it was the first time I had listened to "Fly Me to the Moon" since Dad died.  It's been two months and hearing that song made me smile.  (I have not listened to Ray Charles yet... )

The first month after Dad's death was a mixed bag of emotions.  We were extremely sad for the first couple of weeks... thoughts and realizations kept creeping into my head.  For example:  I remember one night crying in the bathroom and telling Blake "We just went through 4 years of insanity... doctor's appointments, moving Dad from home to home, bills, dealing with the VA, medications... so much energy and time went into all of that... and for what?  For him to just die?"  Obviously since there is no cure to Alzheimer's, we knew that was the end result, but everything that we fought for was only going to be temporary in the end.  The magnitude of this disease and what it means when a loved one is diagnosed is almost incomprehensible.  We could have never imagined we would go through what we did with my Dad.   

Then came the anger (which I know is normal).  The feeling that I was robbed from the chance of having a meaningful adult relationship with my Dad.  We were not that close growing up, but we were getting closer.  Alzheimer's stole that from me.  There was also anger because I felt that in some ways, I never knew who my Dad truly was.  He was 44 years old when he had me... he had a whole life before me and I want to know who that man was.  I saw the 'grumpy dad' or the 'silly dad' side growing up, but when his friends told stories about him at the memorial and about what a fun and energetic person he was to be around, I got jealous. 

The anger is long gone now, and I feel at peace.  Things feel normal around here, but I'm still fired up about fighting Alzheimer's.  A friend of mine recently contacted me because her Grandmother is aggressive (like Dad) and the home that she is currently in cannot handle her.  The Grandmother is on MediCal but does not qualify for skilled nursing.  Did you know that there are no Assisted Living/Memory Care Facilities that will accept MediCal in Orange County (only skilled nursing)?  It's pretty much like that throughout our state and probably many others.  We knew that already, but being faced with that stark reality makes it really tough for a family to make any kind of decision.  These are the cracks in the system.  And families dealing with Alzheimer's disease fall through those cracks. 

In a couple weeks, I will be in Washington D.C. attending the National Alzheimer's Advocacy Forum.  I imagine the week will be very powerful, emotional, and uplifting for me.  On my last day there, I will meet with my Representative in his D.C. office.  It's going to be an amazing experience and I can't wait.  Now I need to go buy a Power Suit!  :)

Megan texted me saying that Dad was in her dream the other night and that they were trying to buy a Los Angeles Rams t-shirt.  It's like he's sending her a wink and a smile from above.

2 comments:

  1. Kristen, I understand your feelings. My dad, Charlie, and your dad briefly were roommates when my dad moved into Whittier Place in Sept. 2010. I remember Dave very fondly, and I am so sorry for your loss and all that you've been through. You have struggled so very hard and bravely over the years to do the best for your dad. We lost my dad to Alzheimer's in Dec. 2012, and today would have been his 98th birthday. He, and the rest of the family, struggled with Alzheimer's for nearly 20 years. His final two years at Whittier Place were probably the happiest years for him, and for all of us who loved him dearly. He was safe, cared for, and loved. However, as you point out, assisted living/memory care comes at a great price, and we too fell through the cracks. I may never recover financially or emotionally, but it was worth it for my dad to receive the best and safest care. My heart aches for all the families who struggle to make decisions for a loved one with Alzheimer's, and often find themselves destroyed financially (and in most other ways as well) with little to no options and no help available.
    Thank you for continuing to fight against Alzheimer's, and I wish you the best during your week in D.C. I would love to be there, but am unable this year. I'll be fighting with you in spirit, wearing my imaginary Power Suit! Thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Virginia Lambert

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    1. Thanks Virginia for sharing about your Dad. I remember him! Whittier Place really was such a wonderful place. We will always think of it as a home.

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