About 4 years ago, I had a conversation with my father. It was a 45-minute conversation. It took about 15 minutes to reach a space in my Dad’s reality where we could converse — almost like children. I held him there for about 10, maybe 15. Then he began to drift.
“You should go to bed, Dad.”
“Yes, maybe I should.”
That was the last conversation I ever had with my father. He’s still alive, but he has Alzheimers.
I’d woken up one morning about a week before, telling my husband I had a dream about my father’s hands. In my dream, we were outside, figures were fuzzy, it was daylight, but I observed my father closing the garden gate. I watched his hands as he enclosed himself behind his fence while I stood on the other side.
We confirmed our arrangements to go down and see my parents that weekend for Easter. As he declined, he had been doing puzzles for the last year. My sister would bring large books and tactile toys from her 2nd grade classroom for him to read and play. He could no longer read his favorite magazines and could only focus on a few sentences from short paragraphs that were placed in front of him. So, throughout the week before my visit, I got ready by collecting things I knew I wanted to reintroduce to him — things for him to look at, touch and feel. Here I was, getting ready to explore the world with my father, the Chemistry teacher who gave me my love of Astronomy, all things Science and faith.
[Lead up to the evening we talked.]
It was the last “complete” visit we had. Every morning, I pass by a picture of my Dad caressing a beautiful rock I gave him. I don’t know if I had my conversation with him that night or the night before the picture was taken. My mind is in the same place his is when it comes to the order of events — it’s stored safely in the past.
I have faith we’ll be able to talk again one day and sort that one out…