Travels with Dad
—-This is a story of a complex relationship with my father, Al, who I came to love and understand after he was diagnosed with dementia.—-
I’m not a scientist. I’m not even an Alzheimer’s field expert. But I know what I know, and can explain it in layman’s terms.
My father recognized his people. He knew who I was, who my mother was, and recognized our neighbors. He knew his brothers who he didn’t see often, and he remembered our friends. He just couldn’t name them or describe how they were related. But he knew.
How do I know this? Because he would light up every time he saw someone he knew, and he didn’t do this with people he never saw before.
Case in point: I took him to have lunch at “Poopie’s – DiManno’s Lunch” in Glens Falls one day. As soon as we walked in, he spotted our cousin Jerry behind the counter cooking up a storm. Al said “Hey! There’s…..”, and pointed at Jerry. That’s all he could come up with. It was enough for me to know that his visual memory was somewhat intact.
I emphasized this remaining awareness any time I could by enhancing our interactions. When we encountered someone we knew, I would say, “Al, this is so and so.” It enriched our visit with each person, and many times, I suspect, put the other person at ease, knowing that we weren’t afraid of being “normal” members of society.
More on Poopie’s in the near future…stay tuned.