In 1991, when my father was 81, the nature of our relationship changed in ways I wasn't prepared for. His doctor diagnosed an advanced case of arteriosclerosis. (We wondered if it was Alzheimer's disease.) Over four years, my father progressively lost his memory. Our roles reversed as daughter became parent, parent became child.
My father lived with my husband and I, our adult son and teenage daughter until one month before he died. During this time, minor health problems become harder to treat when the patient doesn't remember. Hearing aids lead a life of their own. An eye operation becomes a maddening experience.
Spirituality is a recurrent theme. I share my reliance on help from above, and my regular, informal talks with God. My Catholic father attended a Jewish Day Care Center when it wasn't safe for him to stay home alone.
Our story could be anyone's story, only change the names, dates, and places. After hearing about my day, a friend confided, "As bad as my day was, yours is always worse." After reading our story, I hope you will say the same.
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May 30, 2002
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