Dads are not perfect, but my Dad has always been larger than life and very special to me. I remember when I was 4, I was always singing Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and one night he came home with a shiny white pair of go-go boots for me. He encouraged me to never stop learning, work hard, and always be true to myself. He always showed up when I needed him most, but I never figured out how he knew. And now, I will never know.
When my Dad’s dementia began, we thought he was tired, forgetful, or just lazy. The once active man was now sitting in his chair for hours on end and lost track of all time. He forgot whether he ate breakfast or even took a shower. He would get up in the middle of the night and take everything out of the refrigerator, placing it in an orderly fashion on the dining room table for my Mom to find in the morning.
Then one evening when I arrived with dinner, he greeted me at the door. He was very concerned because the limo would be coming and we did not have time to eat. I went along with him and asked him where we were going and he responded, “Your wedding silly! We can’t be late!” I was married 15 years earlier. I let him know we had time to eat and fifteen minutes later he had forgotten the conversation.
His booming voice is now barely audible when he does manage to speak. His mischievous eyes have become blank and his smile is so very rare. This larger than life man is now just a shadow of who he once was. Some days I am his daughter, other’s I am my mother, and sometimes I am just the really nice lady having dinner with him. I love my “new” Dad as I loved him my whole life and I cherish the times he speaks, happens to remember, or smiles. I don’t even mind when he calls me “Mabel” (my Mom’s nick name) or fails to know who I am at all. He will always be my hero and I will always be his little girl.
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