Last week I had to go to meet with my parents and an attorney to sign some legal documents. Especially when a parent has Alzheimer's, you need to make sure things are setup before you need to call upon them. If something happened to my mom, the chain of action needs to be well established so that we can take good care of my dad and honor the wishes of both of my parents. This means Advanced Health Care Directives and Power of Attorney for both of them.
I really didn't envision this part of my life. Who would? My dad was going to continue to work until he was dead, and after that, probably some more. He was going to interrogate my future husband and teach my kids about differential equations, 2nd Amendment Rights, and Chevy small blocks. That was pretty much the loose plan. He certainly wasn't going to develop early-onset Alzheimer's. But the game doesn't always get played according to Hoyle, and the sooner you can accept it and learn how to deal with the pain of it, the better things get and the more you can roll with the punches.
First, the attorney had to establish that he was competent to sign the trust and directives and so he had to ask him some questions to ascertain that 1) he knew that he has assets, 2) that he understood that he has kids to make trustees, and 3) that he understood what the documents are. Tricky stuff. It took quite a bit of questioning to get acceptable answers. But the attorney was very patient and respectful while still doing his job. Dad needed a little coaching to get passable answers. He wasn't sure how many kids he has and he could only name one us, and that, with very little confidence. It's in times like these that the heaviness of the disease and this situation falls upon me.
But it helps me to remember that we've had it good all this time. That there are still going to be fun moments mixed into the crappy ones and that the good times aren't over. They're just different. It helps me to remember fun stuff from the past. It helps me when I think about the fact that he did his job raising us the way he wanted and that he taught us the skills he valued. It helps me to laugh at the memory of how uncomfortable he used to be when he wanted to tell us that he loved us, and that it would usually come out instead as "I'm real proud of you" in a very deep, quiet, and raspy voice, or the more common simple nod of the head with a quick "You done good."
It helps to see my mom grow stronger and more confident in her decision making after all this time. It helps me to see my mom deal with the fact that her husband of 47 years (their anniversary is tomorrow!) changes a little more every day, but that she stands by him and respects him still. It helps me to see her gain perspective and patience through the course of this challenge. And it helps me to see my relationship with her grow as a blessing through these times. She's got a lot of wisdom.
Of course, I'm not about to put Alzheimer's on my nightly Gratitude List. But I am writing on that list that there is a silver lining to all things. I'm grateful that something good can come of something bad. And I never would have appreciated how good things can be or have been, were it not for the times that feel bad. I guess tonight I'm just feeling grateful that I'm starting to see that side of things. And yeah, I'm grateful that "Patricia" was the name he remembered.