Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Walking" hand in hand

Today my dad was having one of his better days. When I arrived, he was slumped over in his wheelchair sound asleep and it concerned me at first when he didn't respond to my touch, but then I hugged him from the side and spoke louder to him, rubbing his arm, and he woke up then.

It was only moments before he was ready to rock and roll, so off we went. Because of my foot being hurt and still swollen a bit, I wanted to sit with him at a table the whole time, so my daughter and I could sit down while visiting with him, so I directed him to a table that had a missing chair, rolled him up under it, and locked his wheelchair. About ten minutes went by with him growing more and more restless, though we did get to enjoy being with him during that time, but then I decided to let him roam, since it makes him happy. So I unlocked him and off we went again, and my daughter went to the counter at the nurses' station to play with a puzzle.

This time I decided to walk beside him and hold his hand as he rolled himself along with his feet, versus guiding him from behind. I could tell he really liked that. We walked to one end of his residence area, then he turned himself around and we walked to the other end, and back and forth again a couple of times. I could sense how relaxed and content he was.

At one point, a nurse was coming on shift who really likes my dad and she came over to say Hi to him while we were walking, but he didn't like that too much. It was comical watching him let her know with facial expression and body language alone that he was with his daughter and enjoying walking with her and wanted nothing to do with anything else.

Someone reading this might ask, "Are you sure your dad knows who you are? That you're even his daughter?" And my answer is, "Yes, I think he does." While we were still sitting at the table, there was a moment when his facial expression came alive, he looked right at me, then smiled and said, "Well Hello there." It wasn't a Hello you would give a stranger you had just met, or even just someone familiar. It was a Hello a father would give to a daughter. The same Hello he used to give me all the time before Alzheimer's even entered the picture.

I enjoyed walking with him, too. My foot hurt after that, but it was worth it. It was something I could do with him, since we can't have any kind of real conversation anymore. Funny how just being together can mean so much sometimes, no words required.

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