Monday, December 11, 2006


Today, as I was walking back to my office late in the day, my cell phone rang. It was my Dad, who is nearly 87. He was calling from the retirement residence where he lives.

"Hi Dad, how are you today?"

"Steve, I am about ready to panic here!"

"What's wrong, Dad?"

"I have been looking around here all day, and I can't find your mother."

My Mom passed away in July of this year. And now, it was suddenly apparent that my Dad's mental decline had reached a new stage, a place none of us has been before.

"Dad, you know that Mom has been gone now for four months."


"Dad, Mom is dead, she is in Heaven. She is not with us anymore."

"I know that!" (Pause) "But this morning she woke up and said she was going to go out to the front desk, and then she never came back. I have looked all over this place, and I can't find her."

"Dad, you are not making sense. Mom is no longer alive, and you just told me you saw her this morning. You don't have to look for Mom"

"I know she is gone. You took me to the place where she is at Forest Lawn, and I saw where she is buried...."

This kind of strange, circular conversation continued for about 15 minutes. Dad worried where Mom was, telling me of conversations he had with her today, and then me telling him again that she is gone. Over and over. Finally, I tried to reassure Dad that he did not need to worry, and that we would come over tomorrow to see how he was doing.

"Don't worry Dad, everything is alright, you don't need to worry about Mom, just rest now."

"Ok, sorry to have bothered you, I will do what you say" "Talk to you tomorrow, goodbye......."

I called the nurse at the retirement residence right away, and told her of our conversation. She immediately replied, "Your Dad is standing right outside my door, talking to our staff". I learned that this sort of confusion is typical for folks of my Dad's age, with mild to moderate dementia. Learning this was only slightly calming to me.

Today, my Dad said goodbye in a new way, in a way I was not yet ready for.
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