Living in the past

I’m back east again visiting the parental units. This time last year I was out here a lot to meet with doctors and help with family decisions about Dad’s medical care. The good of all this is that his cancer appears to have been eliminated through non-invasive cyber knife treatment without the original plan of a very invasive and risky surgery. He is doing well on that front, while his memory remains sporadic at best.

His memory inspires this post. He lives in memories of the past. I find he lives there as these are the memories that work for him. He is comfortable there. The present easily confuses him.

It can be frustrating on a day to day basis. We all have to listen to his stories of his military service, college days and childhood over and over. Then when we need to clarify something in the present he often gets confused or even argumentative as he doesn’t remember the now.

He’s 83. He is our dad. This is family. We care, we love, we give and we do our best. I write this to remind myself that aging brings it’s challenges. To remind me that he lives in the place where he is comfortable and can understand. To help me have compassion through one more military story that I’ve heard 100 times after I’ve had to remind him that the state rescinded his drivers license last year … for the 100th time.

I just returned from a trip to the VA medical center with him to re-instate his coverage. We had to go to four different offices to cover all the documentation. We completed it all in less that an hour. I wish to commend each and every employee we encountered as it was smooth, easy and efficient. What appeared to be a huge problem on the surface was fixed with ease and understanding with every person that helped us in just a few short meetings. The VA medical center here is a caring and efficient place that cares for my father with top quality healthcare. It is not the VA that I’ve read about in the media this past year.

I’m grateful he’s still here with us and grateful that I am still here for him. As Father’s Day approaches I’ll remember to say “Thanks Dad, I love you!”