“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
— Rose Kennedy
5 years ago this week, my dad passed away after along ten years of Dementia. I can remember it as if it was only yesterday. I was getting ready for a late shift when mum range me to say she had been visiting him in the nursing home as usual. she went out to geta drink then when she came back, he had passed away quickly and quietly.
Deep down I knew this was a blessing, but was still deeply saddened that it had happened now. I was at the home and we both waited for the doctor to come and pronounce him dead. after that I asked if i could lay out his body as my final sign of respect. this may seem like a unusual request, but I am a nurse who has worked with older adults in homes and hospitals and has often had patients die and lay them out, so it seemed fitting.
when I had done this and dressed him in our choice of clothes for the funeral palour I sat and waited. Looking back, it was a long scary struggle over the past decade. I know I was not around as much as I wanted to be, cus of others commitment and problems at the time. I remembered back to when dad first started showing signs of dementia. He was scared and confused, cried and became depressed cus he knew something was wrong but could not remember. day after day apiece of him died away. Memories of friends, family occasions past away. And we had to go through it with him, watching the man I called and loved, my dad, watching his personality pass away, until he became a shell of his former self. looking back, I saw the funny side of things as well. he was never a man who swore, but over the years his language changed. He told me a story once, mum had gone away for a few days and I visited him while he was having respite. of course he had forgotten about mum going away, but told me mum had been captured and was being flogged in the square because she had stolen a shilling.
Another time I called him to see him from shopping he looked across from his bed and shouted “You been f….ing shop lifting again”. (I have never done anything like that), in front of the staff, thankfully we saw the funny side.
When I did make it, I would sit there and just listen to him, he was in his own world, often going back to the old days when he used to work at Rolls Royce, often he would shout “Hey ……fetch me this tool or that tool, we need to fix it before home time”.
Once he went back to his childhood and he shouted “Mum they’ve done it again”. not sure what he meant, mum spoke to his sister in USA, she felt it was the time when they were kids ad he was plastered from head to toe due to having pageants disease and his mates thought it was funny to stand him up as a goal post when they played in the street.
The past 10 years we saw a life time of memories and experiences being relived by my dad but backwards as the dementia progressed. dementia is a horrible disease, no cure and painful for the sufferer and their family, but it does have its lightened side, its funny side and above all can bring a family closer together.
I still miss dad and each year we try to get together near his anniversary and share memories. he will never be forgotten. the painful side will always be there, never-fading, but I don’t want it to fade, because I know the good memories will fade as well, and I don’t want to lose them.