Monday, August 15, 2011

Phone numbers

My parents have had the same phone number since I was two years old, which means it's been the same number for a very long time.

I can say it so fast it just sounds like one big word, as it's been rolling off of my tongue for years and years.

Tomorrow will be the last day I can call that number and ask to speak to my father.

He is moving out of his house tomorrow.

My mom simply cannot take care of him at home anymore (even with nearly full time help).

The disease that has ravaged his mind is too much, for her, for everyone.

We are grateful that he was home for as long as he was.
Herculean efforts were made to help him recover as much as possible after his stroke (he went to the same rehab as Congresswoman Giffords) but alas, there was nothing that could be done, really. Dementia is cruel.

My mom is exhausted. Spent. Mentally, physically, financially (and no, it is not about finances).

She is also heartbroken, having to be separated from her husband of 40+ years. I can scarcely stand to think about her on their acreage, in their big country house, all alone.

After tomorrow I will have to call another phone number--one I will undoubtedly have to look up repeatedly--and ask to speak to my father, ask someone I don't know if he would be willing to talk on the phone.

But he won't want to talk.
It's a rare occasion that I can get more than two sentences out of him on the phone, and it's clear he really doesn't know what's going on. He only knows it's me because my mother always tells him to say hello to me. She can't stand for him not to know his own daughter.

I guess we're lucky that most days he doesn't know he's at his own home anyway, maybe that will make it less hard on him.

But it doesn't make it any less hard on me, on my mother. I know some of you have lost your fathers and I don't know which is worse--to lose them outright early or to watch them disintegrate into nothingness when they were the strongest person you ever knew.

My dad--he could chop down a huge tree while wearing a J-collar with a broken neck. He could work in the hot sun all day long and never complain. He could run marathons. He could ride his bike longer and faster than Mr. MTL and I ever could--he exhausted us on countless rides. He could do the hardest crossword puzzle of the week in the newspaper and never.give.up until every last blank was filled in. He could read the Christmas story to us every year and always choke up on the words "And she pondered all these things in her heart." He could give you a gentle squeeze with his calloused hands, he could laugh at your bad joke, he could sing off-key but from the heart...he could do all of those things and now, he cannot.

And tomorrow he has to move out of his house. And into the care of virtual strangers to live out his days with more indignities than anyone should ever, ever have to suffer.

Oh Dad.
I'm so sorry.

42 comments:

  1. Oh MTL, I hate how hard this is on all of you. Sometimes I can feel the loss like it's mine.

    Sending peace to you and your family during this new transition.

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  2. My heart is breaking for all of you right now. I'm so incredibly sorry you're having to go through such a painful experience. I wish there was something I could say or do to make it easier. Please know I'm thinking of all of you and sending hugs your way.

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  3. I'm so sorry for you - and your mom. This is heartbreaking and painful.

    It seems like over the years the repeated losses of various kinds start taking a bigger and bigger toll.

    Hugs to you.

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  4. You know having lost my mom almost 3 weeks ago I think your situation is a lot worse than losing a parent quickly. My mom deteriorated fast and it was so heartbreaking to see, but at least it didn't go on for a long time...

    You are all in my thoughts and prayers. My heart is breaking for you to see your once strong dad in such a state, I am truly sorry!

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  5. I'm so sorry that your family is suffering. I truly hope you all find some peace in knowing that your dad will be well taken care of...although that doesnt make it any less hard or sad. Thinking of you. ((hugs))

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  6. I'm just so very sorry. It's heartbreaking. I lost my dad at a young age, and was thankful the time was brief where he was there but not really there. I am sure this is so difficult for you, as I had only a glimpse into that suffering. It's hard to miss someone who is still here.

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  7. My heart is so heavy for your family. I'm so sorry. Something similar happened to my grandpa and it was so hard. I know your dad is so well-loved and will be taken care of. It's all just so hard though.

    Hugs.

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  8. This post really touches me, and I am so, so sorry for you and your family. I can't stand the thought of my dad not knowing who I am anymore, and not being himself anymore. It must be so hard for you and your mom. Especially now that you have your two little babies you would love to share with him. I can only imagine how many complicated feelings your mother must be feeling right now, too. I don't pray, but I am definitely wishing you and your family all the best right now.

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  9. I'm so sorry. That sounds so, so hard. xoxo

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  10. I am so, so sorry. I can't imagine anything more difficult than seeing one of your parents slowly fade. I know this decision must not have been made lightly, and I'm sure your mom/family chose a facility that can provide him with the best care. But I also know that must not make it any easier. Hugs.

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  11. I'm so sorry that this is happening. I can't even imagine how hard it is. Thinking of your family.

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  12. Sending you and your mom strength.

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  13. I'm so sorry. I can't imagine the pain you are going through. Sending you big hugs.

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  14. With tears in my eyes I can't imagine MTL. You know when we say "In sickness and in health" in our marriage vows, well this situation certainly takes that phrase to the extreme. I hope that the change will bring some peace to your mom's heart. I can't imagine but I can have empathy. I hope the twins bring her some joy in what must feel like an eternity of sorrow since your dad's stroke. Just made our annual donation to the heart and stroke fund...this time, I'll be making the donation in honor of your dad. Terrible, terrible disease.

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  15. I need to do a much better job of appreciating the good things in my life---it can be taken away so quickly.

    I'm so sorry.

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  16. I am so sorry your family is going through this. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Both my parents are still in decent health but my husband lost his father last year to ALS (Lou Garretts). He was diagnosed about 16 months before his death. It was so sad to watch a man who had been strong go through this. He spent his last year in a hospital on a ventilator. So I understand a little of what you are going through. I know it was very hard for my husband to watch.

    Sending you and your family hugs and prayers! Hope all is well with the babies!! JulesH

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  17. The words don't fix anything, but I am just so, so sorry. This is just heart breaking.

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  18. I'm sorry too. Sorry for you entire family.

    I would have loved to have had the chance to say goodbye to my brother, but at the same time, I don't know how we would have handled seeing him languish with disabilities that would have certainly come from lack of oxygen to his brain. I dare say perhaps we were the lucky ones. Unfortunately.

    We are also torn right now with my grandfather really needing a nursing home but really wanting to be home with his wife of 76 years. Sadly, we can only do so much to keep him at home. And what a shame that someone can work hard all their life, plan well for their financial future, but still end up struggling because they need super expensive skilled nursing care outside the home. I just hope your dad is in a caring facility and that you and your family can find some eventual peace is this tragic situation. I'll be praying for you.

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  19. My heart hurts for you. It's so very true that it is harder to go through a loss like this, rather than to lose someone outright.

    I'm so sorry for your mom, for your family, and all you're going through. My thoughts & prayers are with you.

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  20. I'm so sorry your all having to trudge through this. Thoughts for epic amounts of strength and peace for you and your mom as this heartbreaking disease continues its path.

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  21. i wish things were different.
    mourning the loss of someone while they are still alive is so difficult and confusing.
    love to you and i canNOT believe you think i wouldn't want you to read. you are going nutty, my friend.
    xoxo
    lis

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  22. Oh A, there are just no words to say how sorry I am about this.

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  23. thinking of you and your mother. I am so sorry that this disease has taken your father from you both. It is such a heartbreaking situation and such a terrible disease.
    thinking of you always....

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  24. I'm so sorry. It's a herculean effort to deal with dementia, indeed. And another to let go and know she couldn't do it anymore. I hope he is well cared for; I hope your mother can find her way.

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  25. There are in fact, many things worse than death...and cruel, cruel dementia and Alzheimer's are two of those things. Praying for you and your family.

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  26. I'm so sorry for this pain you're experiencing. Your Dad sounds downright heroic. Sending good thoughts to everyone in your family.

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  27. My heart is breaking for you and your family and all that you have to go through (and for him). As we all know, life is so not fair. It is a wonderful thing that you had such an amazing father, I am always jealous of that when I see it...but that makes something like this so much harder and I am sorry! Hugs.

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  28. This is heart breaking. Very difficult for you and your family. You are in my thoughts and I will keep you in my prayer.

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  29. Hey, just wanted to let you know that I read your post and I am praying for you. I wish I could give you a big 'ol hug right now. You WILL be okay. You will. Believe it.

    ~Jess

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  30. Big, big hugs to you!! I am so very sorry. I totally understand the pain that comes with dementia. It is awful!

    Sending prayers and good thoughts your way (((hug)))

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  31. I asked myself that same question when my mother passed away. We watched her grow weak in the hospital, unable to do anything for herself. It was demeaning to her, and heartbreaking for us to watch. I remember having the same conversation with my friend and telling her I would rather it happened quickly. Just an instant in which I'd know that she was not in pain, and not the dragged out ICU that became her (and ours) second home that summer.

    I'm sorry for your pain and for your mother's emotional pain. We never imagine we have to be parents to our own parents until the winds change and we find ourselves on that journey.

    And about the title of your post...oh yes...I still want to dial that phone number that my parents had for over 15 years, and hear my mom's voice on that other end.

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  32. I'm so sorry for what you are going through. My heart breaks for you. I lost my Dad abruptly and I sometimes think that if I could only touch him, hear him, or see his face that it would be enough, but I really can't say that would be the case. Losing the Dad you knew and accepting him as he is now is a major continuous adjustment and I can only imagine the pain you must feel.

    Thinking of you,
    daisysmom

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  33. Your dad. I love your dad. I love the stories you have about him. I remember how he almost gave me a heart attack chopping down that tree with a neck collar and how he would shower with that thing- too funny. I remember the phone calls about his accident and the stroke.

    I can only hope that in his mind, he's transported back to the trails, his land, and is reliving memories of his life with you, your mom, his dogs.

    I can't imagine how hard this is on all of you. Praying you all get the very best experience out of a crappy situation.
    B

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  34. Oh. That just takes my breath away. I'm so sorry.

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  35. My heart breaks... I am so, so sorry that you and your family are facing this. My family went through this and there are no words... Sending you BIG hugs~

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  36. I've tried to comment countless times in the last month on your blog, only for it to be wiped out (I hope this one sticks!!!). First, let me tell you that I literally cried real tears when I saw you and your children. FINALLY, you're a mom! Couldn't be happier for you.

    Secondly, I'm so very sorry about your dad. I honestly do think it's harder to lose a parent the way you're losing yours. "Pulling through" after a traumatic brain injury can be so bittersweet, as you've seen first hand. I wish your dad peace - that he may live out his final days in comfort.

    Sky (no eggs in this basket)

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  37. I'm so so sorry. I can't imagine how this is for you and your family. I never have experienced a long, drawn out loss like that. My losses have been quick, some brutal...but always to the point. I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you and sending hugs for comfort.

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  38. I'm so sorry, Mrs. MTL. I cannot imagine what this is like, and I'm sorry you have to go through it.

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  39. I'm so sorry, my heart is just breaking for you! I can't even imagine how unbelievably hard this must be for you and your mom.... Sending so much love your way!

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  40. =(((((((( How heart breaking, strokes are so cruel!

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