Every child deserves a dad like mine. He truly is and always has been the one constant in my life. Quiet, unassuming, hardworking fiercely proud Yorkshireman. He has supported me, cried with me and for me, seen me through the highs and lows of my life. Today, he is 80 and I am going to do everything I can to make sure he celebrates. We have organised a party for tomorrow night- he knows about it ( it is beyond my skill set to arrange it in secret with mum the way she is) and is ok with us doing this.
Mum and dad have been married for 57 years and it would normally have been her doing this but in a rare afternoon of honesty she cried and said sorry but she knew she couldn't do it. Several times she asked how old dad was and then said ' I don't know how old I am' how sad to be able to realise you don't know something so fundamental. How do you react? I did what I always do and tried to make light of it 'well that's ok mum if you don't know just make up a number and be whatever age you want to be' she cheered up and moved on but it made me wonder how can you know that you don't know something and how frightening is that?
There are days when mum covers up her lack of understanding with anger and accusations - her default position when she is scared. Dad has endless patience but is looking thinner and worn down - he cries easily and looks totally defeated at times.
I now know that I have to make sure that everything I tell mum I repeat to dad. His birthday card and present were causing issues - she alternates between not knowing it's dad's birthday, to being angry and resentful that we are organising a party for him to crying that she hasn't bought him anything. I've bought him a present and card for her, wrapped and written them and placed them at the side of her chair several weeks ago in an attempt to calm her down. It obviously didn't work as that's me being logical and the brain of a dementia sufferer doesn't work like that.
Physically mum is deteriorating, less able ( or less willing) to move which is putting even more strain on dad on a day to day basis.
However, this weekend is about dad. Today I've 'rallied' the troops - we are going to dad's for a picnic lunch which we will take and tomorrow will be the best party we can give him. I remember often when I was younger people would say 'you're Jim's lass aren't you?' Do you know what I'm so proud that today I can say 'yes I'm Jim's lass' thank you dad I love you xxx