Having kind of a rough day over hear, y’all. I was listening to a podcast of Mindy Kaling being interviewed on Fresh Air yesterday, and she talked about how her mom changed after her terminal cancer diagnosis. Her mom was sick for a few months and then was gone, but in that time she seemed like a different person. Several months after her mom’s death, Mindy said that she’s getting back to remembering who her mom was before the disease took hold.
After this many years, I find that I have a hard time thinking of my dad as he was before the dementia. My idea of him has fundamentally altered, and I’m not sure that, after his death, time will return his old self to me. If I can’t remember that stuff now, why would it come back after he’s gone? I remember snippets, like isolated snapshots, of who he was, and why we were so close. I can remember generally what his qualities were, but the incidents that demonstrated those qualities? Not so much. I know he was funny, and a great listener, and my biggest supporter, but I can’t tell you why. I’m afraid that, when this is all said and done, I won’t get those back. I want true memories, not vague ideas. I want something concrete, and I’m terrified that all I’ll be left with is these painful, specific memories, of how the disease has robbed me of him. I don’t want to remember the tantrums in the grocery store or how he cried when he realized that my mom wouldn’t be moving into the dementia care facility with him. I don’t want to remember hugging him and pulling away to find that he’s wet himself. I don’t want to remember him staring at me with no recognition.
Perhaps when he dies and we have a memorial service, people will tell me stories that will trigger more solid memories for me of my dad before dementia. I really hope so.