I stared across the table as he took another bite of his food. He put his fork down and once again stared off in space. He would ask me an occasional question or make a comment, but mostly it was just his thoughts and his food that he was focused on.
As he finished his dinner, he once again thanked me for sitting with him to have dinner. He thought it was nice that a you man like me would sit with him in this room full of strangers. He again asked me my name for the fifth or sixth time. He said I looked familiar and was curious if we had ever met before. I had answered the question a few times already, but this time I just said, “No, It just looked like you could use some company.” He thanked me and thought that was very nice of me.
Yes, this gentleman and I had met before, the first time was over fifty years ago when I was born. This man that I was a stranger to is my dad. Alzheimer’s and dementia have taken his memory. He knows no one and even forgets who he is. As his child, it is hard to watch. Even though or relationship was terrible, it is still hard to watch any human suffer. He is living in a very lonely world, but is totally oblivious to it.
I wasted many years of my life trying to have a relationship with this man, but for some reason he was NEVER interested. We lived in the same house. My parents divorced after 51 years of marriage. He just never wanted me in his life. To answer your question am I an only child? No I’m number three of six. I’m the child lost in the shuffle. My dad had the kids he wanted, my two older brothers and my mom got her daughters, twins as a matter of fact, a couple of years younger than me. I have a younger brother who is the baby of the family.
It was another visit with my dad. Another heart breaking moment to see someone that has lost his memory and lives in a world of loneliness. He has forgotten everyone and even where he is from. I have been caring for him for the past 9 years. A responsibility I took on when my entire family kicked him to the curb, yes even my mom. Caring for someone that made your life so difficult is hard, but many times doing the right thing is hard.
I tell you this because my journey to wellness is hard. It’s not only about the physical health, but also the mental health and to a point mental may be a little more important than the physical. Physically we know what to do, eat right, exercise and get the correct amount of sleep. Mentally are we there to accomplish that, me personally, No!
I have struggled throughout my life. The past 14 years have been the worst. I have made poor decision after poor decision. I have brought my wife and I to the edge of financial ruin and have flushed my career down the toilet. I have set back and let life beat the ever living crap out of me, while working hard to please others. Enough is enough.
I sat and thought, read, meditated, self-helped podcast until my ear wax was trained and still no major changes. I have sought counseling, intensive programming and medication. Some relief but still missing the joy. The empty space is still there and searching to fill that void has been difficult. My life of being the “square peg” in a world of “round holes” has worn me out. But lately I have started to feel a big positive change.
Finding that missing piece (peace) has been difficult. I now have found what has been missing and that is a stable relationship. A relationship that I have taken for granted and neglected in so many ways. That is the relationship with my God, my Lord and Savior. My parents may not have lived or practiced God’s Words, but at least they made sure every Sunday while I was growing up I was there to hear His Words in church.
I reflect on how bad life has been the past several years, but I also know how much worse it could have been. I think about the moments when I know it could have been worse, but God does have my back. Now that I have worked at it a little harder and can see the light at the end of the tunnel, hope has returned. With hope, I can find some peace and with peace, JOY WILL return.
I walked my dad back to his room. He wants me to stay, but visiting hours are over, there are still some limitations because of COVID. I know he doesn’t remember me, but I know who he is. He is my father and I must honor him, just as I must honor my Heavenly Father. So for my dad, I can’t heal him, but if I can bring him 5 minutes of enjoyment and a smile to his face. The visit was worth it.
Stay tuned as I continue my journey and quit weighting to be.