Saturday, January 12, 2008

The First of Scrolling Saturday

Melissa and Coleen have created a brand new meme called Scrolling Saturday. The idea is to take an old post that you wrote when you first started blogging (and you were the only one reading your posts) and repost it so it can get it's much deserved props. I decided that I would repost my dad's birthday tribute seeing how I just had a huge post about my mom. I started out writing this as a simple birthday message, and it just kept getting longer and longer. It was originally written and posted on November 15, 2007. Hope you like it!

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Yesterday was my Dad's 76th birthday. I went to the store and stood for quite a while trying to pick out the perfect cards. One card would be from the boys, and one from the hubby and I. As I looked, my eyes fell on a card with a picture of a little girl sitting on her daddy's lap. I read it, and I started to cry. It was so true to my Dad and I. It said that Daddy was the first man to ever place a whiskery kiss on her cheek. The first pal she ever had. The first man she ever loved. The first man ever to believe in her. I just sat there reading, and crying, wondering if Daddy could appreciate this card.

My Dad has always been a very sensitive person. Full of emotion. But these days, it is hard to know what he will be feeling at any given moment. More so, it is difficult to know what he will be able to understand.

Daddy has Alzheimer's. He has had it for at least the last seven years, but has gotten much worse over the last two. Watching him slowly loose memory and ability has been enormously painful, to say the least. But even worse, seeing my Dad's personality slowly disappear. Words can not express the sorrow.

My Dad has always been a caretaker, a romantic, a joker, the life of the party. He could do anything. He could build anything. He was a sportsman. He played semi-professional football. He could sing like an angel. He had leads in numerous musicals. He was a fabulous dancer and every one watched my Dad in awe as he swept me across the floor to Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight" when we danced the father/daughter dance at my wedding. He sang in the church choir and people would come to midnight mass every Christmas Eve to hear Dad sing "O Holy Night". He was a storyteller. A joker. He was a hard worker. The "go-to guy". You could always depend on Dad. He stood up for what he believed in. He ALWAYS took care of those who could not take care of themselves.

My favorite story is about my Dad when he was in third grade. Dad had heard that a group of fourth grade boys were following one of their classmates out of school and beating him up because he was Jewish. Dad (who is Catholic) told the Jewish boy that he would walk him home from now on, and when they left that day the fourth grade boys followed them. They told Dad to get lost because they wanted to "take care" of the Jewish boy. Dad stood directly in front of the boy and told the fourth graders, "If you want to get to him, you've got to get through me first!" He took them all on, and won. The fourth graders never bothered the boy again.

That's my Dad. It still is, really. I can still see him in there sometimes. Some days he is the Dad I know. Other days he is lost inside himself somewhere. The disease has eaten away at his personality making him vulnerable and unsure of himself. My Mom takes wonderful care of him (which is a miracle in itself as she is also fighting terminal cancer), but recently we have been wondering if it is getting to the point where he should be in an assisted living facility. More than once he has wandered off. Thankfully, he still knew enough to stop at a gas station and tell them he is lost.

So, for his birthday this year I was questioning what kind of card I could get him. What would he understand? I know he still understands some jokes, so a happy card might be a good idea. But when I saw this card, I just had to get it. Maybe more for myself, than for him. I walked out of the store with three cards. One from the boys, one from hubby and me, and one from just me.

Mom brought Dad over to my house yesterday before they were to go on their daily walk. I greeted them at the door and told Dad "Happy Birthday" right away. "It's my birthday? Oh, that's nice."  Dad said. He happily came in. He was in a good mood. A birthday gift in itself. He sat down on the couch and played with the boys. Although he sometimes forgets who my Mom is, who I am, who my siblings are, he always seems to know the boys.

I brought in his presents (his favorite chocolate covered raisins and chocolate turtles) and his cards. He managed to open one of the envelopes, but got confused with the rest. My Mom opened them for him, and the boys happily opened his presents for him. I watched his face as my Mom read the cards to him, searching for a clue of understanding. He smiled and said how nice they were.

Then she got to my card. As she read it her eyes welled up with tears, as did mine. Dad listened, and began to laugh at us, confused as to why we were crying. He didn't get it. And it was ok. Mom and I gave each other knowing looks, and moved on.

We played with the boys and Ben showed Grandma and Grandpa how he can stand up by himself. We talked about the beautiful day outside. I showed them my new blinds.

I noticed Dad had been holding something in his hand the whole time. It was my card. He kept looking at it. Reading it again and again, trying to catch it's meaning. The other cards sat next to him. This one he held.
As my parents got up to go on their walk I noticed my card still in his hand. And I don't know, maybe I am telling myself this in some false hope, but I really think he got it. I think he felt the love in that card. I think it was another birthday gift, this time from God, and not just to Dad but to me as well.

33 comments:

Maddy said...

I've just returned from England. My Dad has Alzheimers too. Very best wishes to you and yours.

Manners & Moxie said...

This is the most beautiful post I have ever read. You are an amazing writer. I felt what you were saying and my heart hurts for you. I cannot imagine. I truly can't.

I think you show here that you have a wonderful spirit in the way you seem to be embracing what life is placing in front of you, just as your beautiful family seems to be. It is obvious from reading this post that you very much exhibit the same qualities you so endearingly write about your dad.

I'm going to make my daughter some lunch and come back to read about your mom.

Thank you so much for posting this. :) God Bless.

Secret Agent Mama said...

Awwwww... my ears are welled with tears... "I noticed Dad had been holding something in his hand the whole time. It was my card. He kept looking at it. Reading it again and again, trying to catch it's meaning. The other cards sat next to him. This one he held.
As my parents got up to go on their walk I noticed my card still in his hand. And I don't know, maybe I am telling myself this in some false hope, but I really think he got it. I think he felt the love in that card. I think it was another birthday gift, this time from God, and not just to Dad but to me as well."

My heart just ached. :(

Laura said...

wow. Amazing post. Thanks for sharing it with us. Sounds like your Dad is an amazing person.

suchsimplepleasures said...

wow...that was beautiful. it made my cry...
i'm so glad that you are participating in this scrolling saturday! it's given me and everyone else, a real chance to discover your blog!!
xo

wheelsonthebus said...

I am sorry that your father is in the clutches of Alzheimers. He sounds like a wonderful man, even through the disease.

Jenni said...

Oh Kathryn...I'm crying right now. I posted a few weeks ago about my dad's fight with cancer (he's winning:)) and my heart breaks for you.

My mom has been struggling with memory loss and unexplained falls. Just this Christmas we siblings discussed how to bring it up with her. We're still putting it off.

Your post was a good reminder to me to appreciate every moment. Take comfort in knowing that this life is fleeting, but in the next your father will be whole and beautiful forever.

AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

You write the most heart-felt things. I always FEEL your love in them. And, I always am so touched. I believe you. I think your dad did know. It was a gift.

Laura said...

Oh - I am in tears...what a wonderful post. You write so well and capture so much in your descriptions and words.

May you never loose that hope.

Hugs.

Laura said...

I just posted my own Scrolling Saturday! Thanks for the idea!

Beck said...

I'm crying my eyes out over here. What an astonishingly moving post.

Dawn said...

Yep, you made me cry also. We just visited my husband's grandma who has Alzheimer's last Saturday; it's a horrible disease. This was an amazing tribute, just beautiful. I'm so sorry that this disease has hurt your family.

tommie said...

This really did move me to tears, and i don't usually get weepy over things.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

Happy Saturday to you!

Kellan said...

Oh Kathryn - you are killing me!! I loved this love letter to your precious father. I love how much you love him and I am so sorry he is being ravaged by this horrible disease! I love that your mother is still taking care of him and they go for walks. He is very lucky to have a family that loves him so much and I want to believe that he knows that too! I loved this story Kathryn - as sad as it is and as much as it made me cry - because there was so much love in it - so many words that expressed that life is precious and we have to care for each other. You did a good job writing this beautiful tribute to your father - a very special man. Happy Birthday to him and love to you! Take care. Kellan

monkeysandmarbles said...

this post brought me to tears for...two reasons. first of all, that card would be so perfect for my own dad...he's one of my best friends in the world.

secondly, my grandmother had Alzheimer's. i was so very close to her...i saw her almost everyday of the first 20 years of my left, until i moved out of town to go to University. i know how hard it is to see someone you love become less themselves and more confused. it's heartbreaking. as it progressed, she started forgetting everyone...except my husband (my boyfriend at the time). she never forgot him. funny.

i'm so sorry that you have to go through this with your dad. *hugs*

AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

I know this is so not the spot, but somehow I don't have your email. I just wanted to say.

YAY FOR THE PACKERS!! WOOT! What a kick ass game, no??

TheVasquez3 said...

i felt EVERY single word as i read this lovely post. i recently lost my grandpa to Alzheimers, i know the feelings you are expressing all too well.

i am so grateful for scrolling saturday, for it brought me here. i feel like my blog horizons have been broadened and i am soaking up all of this bloggy goodness. my heart is full tonight. thanks for being part of that!!

i can't wait for more!!

Haley-O said...

I'm so moved by this post.... Speechless....
The bit about your dad and the Jewish boy melted my heart....

AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

Okay. This is sad. Here's the blog email. anglophilefootballfanatic@gmail.com

You and me both at the beginning. Pup was saying, "There's the Ryan Grant we all know and love from Notre Dame. #4 Mr. Fumble every play." And, then, he got over himself and calmed down. Whew. It was a GREAT game.

Now if only the Cowboys can lose. I keep cracking up that Jessica Simpson isn't allowed to go! Tony Romo can choke just as easily if she isn't, I hope.

imbeingheldhostage said...

I'm glad you chose this one for scrolling saturday. It was THIS post that made me put your blog address in my bookmarks. It's inspiring. Thank you.

Wright said...

I got teary reading your post. Beautiful and tragic. I'm sure that deep down your Dad did understand.

Family Adventure said...

I remember reading this one the first time I posted it. It still moved me to tears, though...

Heidi

Sandy C. said...

Hun, my heart goes out to you for finding the strength and courage to write this post. Not only to endure these struggles, but to get it all down and share it is incredible. You moved me to tears...I'm sure he understood.

Julie Pippert said...

I remember that post the first time around...moving now as it was then.

OHmommy said...

Awww... that was so beautiful. Your dad. I have tears.

What a great idea to bring back old blogs... there are so many great posts, I am sure!

MamaGeek said...

Wow, what an amazing amazing post. You are a very talented writer!

Amy said...

What a wonderful post. I'm glad that you reposted it, it would be a shame for that to be hidden in your early work.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment.

LaskiGal said...

So many beautiful comments have been written about this heartfelt post. What more can I say except thank you for sharing this truly wonderful testament to your father.

Tracey said...

Well, shoot. You made me cry...

girlymom said...

Kathryn,
I don't even know what to say, you have me crying. I can feel your pain, admiration, frustration, questioning and love for your father. I hope that you have more of those moments, good days, happy moments together. Thank you for sharing this- it truly is beautiful.

Oh man, now I have a runny nose and no kleenex :)

Laura McIntyre said...

What a wonderful post, was amazing to read

Siobhan said...

Thank you for re-posting this about your Dad. What a heartfelt tribute to a man you so obviously love and admire. I am sure it is difficult to watch--my MIL is going through the same thing with her Dad.

The words you wrote here were comforting to me, and that small amount of escapism is the best thing I could ask for.

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Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson