I have always been a daddy’s girl. He was the parent that listened, the one that hugged, wanted to talk, play catch, and would watch whatever silly show I put on just to spend time with me.
Many of those things I took for granted but now that he has been in a full time care facility over an hour away (without traffic) I embrace the little glimpse of caring and remembering that appears when the Alzheimer’s is momentarily suppressed.
Here are some of the things I am grateful for when I am able to spend time with him:
When he remembers I am his daughter. He still knows I am Tiffany and I am dreading the day when that comes to an end. For now, every visit he is excited to see me and still calls me by my name. Often he doesn’t know how to introduce me. He can’t remember if I am his brother, his wife or sister. But the days he does remember, the days he calls me his daughter, light up my heart.
Our walks on the patio and sitting in the sun. My dads facility has a large outdoor area. One of the things we always do is walk around the patio and he like to count the doves and the chickens that are in the cages outside. Every time he tells me that one is missing and then points out one that is a ‘bully.’ It is nice to be able to get out and walk around with him. I miss our walks near the beach or even just down to the shopping center. At least we are still able to get out into the open air and enjoy nature.
The gossip he fills me in on about the people in his facility. I am pretty sure it is all made up, but nonetheless, it is still entertaining. I often wonder if he is telling me old stories that he remembers from when he was younger.
I LOVE to hear him talk about the Giants. The San Francisco Giants hold a special place in the hearts of the Gustafson’s. It is a team that brought us together through tough and scary times. It is a team that we celebrated birthdays and Mother’s and Father’s Day’s with and knowing those days are long gone it makes me smile when he wants to talk about the Giants and their season. Granted they do not play the games at his facility, but he still asks and wants to know even though he may not remember a few hours later.
When he walks me to the door. Well, sometimes. There are days when it is heartwarming and days when it breaks my heart. He always wants to walk me to the car, make sure I am safe and that the car is running correctly. Unfortunately, he is not able to leave the facility with me. He doesn’t understand why and gets upset when they wil not allow him to leave. There are some days I have to sneak out when he is not looking but I embrace the days when we will walk me to the front door, give me a big hug, and tell me how much he loves me. Those are the good days!