Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dancing in the rain.

Yesterday's visit with my dad was like being in the rain, instead of a storm. I tried to dance in it. Sometimes, you are thankful that it is "just raining."

When I arrived with my daughter at the assisted living home at about 12:45pm, I held my breath as we pushed the doorbell of the Alzheimer's living area and waited to be let in. I was hoping to find him doing well today. At first, we couldn't find him, so I enlisted the help of a worker there, who checked a nearby room to his own and found him in the bathroom there. When he came out and saw me, at first I cringed at the sour look on his face and lack of recognition of me, but then suddenly, it was like a light came on, and his face lit up and we hugged. My first little dance.

Almost immediately he said, "It's been awhile." I did a second little dance, because I was amazed that he realized it had been longer this time between visits. Then I did another little dance as I noticed he was walking much better again, and without his walker. I mentioned it to the worker, who said that he had been walking much better for awhile now. I directed him to some comfortable chairs in the carpeted hallway, lined with plants and various end tables and made to feel somewhat like a living room. We sat and "talked," as talking goes for those in this stage of Alzheimer's. He actually responded to a few of my questions appropriately, though. When he tried to talk to me, however, I couldn't understand what he meant, so I had to just pretend that I did.

After a few minutes, my daughter asked if he wanted to go for a walk, so I figured we would take a stroll to the courtyard outside, and my daughter picked a flower and gave it to him. He received it with a smile. I danced yet again. My dad quickly became hot, though, since he was wearing a flannel shirt and it was a warm day, so back inside we went after only a few minutes. I was glad to see that my daughter was able to have a decent visit with her grandpa this time around, and that the other residents stayed pretty calm for the most part. Well, except for "Mr. A," of course. At one point he started yelling, convinced that the chairs lining the wall in the activity room needed to be moved or they were going to take the paint off the walls. I tried to see the humor in it as a worker there quickly calmed him down.

During the visit I noticed that the end of my dad's nose was quite red. I asked him if he had bumped it on something, and he nodded and said, "Yes. It did." Later I found out from my step mom on the phone that they had noticed it when they had woken him up the morning before, except what I had seen was actually much better than how it had looked the day before. She wasn't sure how he had done it.

We visited for about 45 minutes, then had to leave since my daughter was getting quite restless. One of the workers had to take him to his bathroom to get him "changed," and I figured it would be a good time to go. I tried to give him a hug, but he wouldn't stop walking. He was on a mission. But after we said our goodbyes and started to head for the door, he suddenly turned around and looked for us. I walked back and tried to give him another hug, but he turned back again and started walking, and wouldn't stop. I looked at the worker and we shrugged shoulders, and I just went ahead and left at that point, telling him we would see him later. Maybe somehow he knew we were leaving.

Thank you to anyone out there who might be reading this and praying for him. I appreciate it more than you could ever know.

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