My dad died on November 2 in 2004. It doesn’t seem that long ago, most days.
The tragedy of his life was that his last years were spent in confusion and angst, despondency, dementia. Even in the early 1990s, Dad started changing… his outlook, mood and attitude. He would snap at me unexpectedly over insignificant things. When I left my husband in 1992, he reacted with disappointment, anger and disdain. None of us knew how ill he was.
During the next few years, we had a tenuous relationship at best. He had heart surgery, which we hoped would restore his personality and cognitive function. That was not to be. He had atherosclerosis and nothing restored his brain or cleared his arteries. I was crushed that he remained so very disappointed in me, even hateful, and he didn’t believe that I loved him.
This wonderful, kind, successful and intelligent man lost all of “that”. When he got worse, he seemed to accept my divorce (and seemed happier to see me, sometimes) and found a few cheery memories to cling to. I lacked the funds to visit my parents in Calgary very much. I regret that I didn’t phone more, but wasn’t at ease with either Dad nor Myrtle, and I didn’t send cards the way my sister did.
So we were all marking time for quite a long time. Poor Myrtle couldn’t care for her dear companion at home and chose a nursing home for him. Dad could come home on weekends for a few years. Really he languished in the institution for a very long period, and that makes the last of his life on earth very sad.
However, I have some beautiful memories to cling to! My sister and I had a safe and fulfilled childhood. I swam and skied with him as a child. I danced with him as a teen and as a young woman. I remember a pleasant father who was a very gentle and caring husband to our mom (and later, to our stepmom). He was soft spoken but witty, a pharmacist competent in business, a confidante, colleague, and friendly employer to many. I wish I could go back and tell him how I admired him.
The last words he said to me were “I love you”, the night before he died. I said it too. I feel fortunate that I was in Calgary at that time (he became acutely ill and I tore back and forth from home to Calgary several times that fall).
I don’t know where my Dad is now… do you think he could be dancing with Mom AND with Myrtle?
Sending love out into the Universe,