Life, Love, Alzheimer’s and Prelude to the Lair of the Hong Kong Grandmother
Posted on January 19, 2012
I look at children these days and, aside from being generally annoyed by them, relish in the look of wonder and amazement if their eyes at what they see around them. There will come a day when they realize the world is a much more complicated place, but as dark as it can be, there’s also light. Imagine the day it dawns on them and they say “I love you!” to someone only to suddenly have it take on a new, deeper meaning. I’m not even talking romantic love, but rather the love of friendship and as a child to a parent. The child becomes an adult. Now imagine watching it backwards and the adult becomes the child and that dawning never comes again. Ain’t that a bitch? But it does cause one to pause.
I find myself looking at my father’s face more so than usual lately. I look at the hair that’s turned white and the lines on his face, neither of which is unsightly. Not too many years back, there was patience, experience and wisdom to be found there. This man spent his life going from the Army to college, to becoming a police officer and then retiring as a Deputy Director to getting a number of post-retirement jobs in order to put off drawing his pension and social security. He provided even when he didn’t have to.
It’s a part what makes us human to want to take care and provide for our families and loved ones, but during that time, do we take enough opportunities to stop and smell the roses in some form? Did my father get enough out of life during those 40 years of working to make the next potential 18 years dealing with Alzheimer’s worth it? I can’t imagine so, not at all.
This entire experience has forced me to take a very long, hard look at my own life and my interactions with others. I try to travel when I can because I never want to lose the wonder of seeing a new place or experiencing something I haven’t before. I do want to continue attempting to grow as a person, a friend and a lover (to my guy). But I’ll make mistakes and I’ll most likely continue exploring the snarkier side of my inner child, too. I guess that’s how I have fun.
This double life I lead at the moment between working three days a week and then spending four helping with dad has started to feel like a tour of duty and a tug of war. It’s absolutely frustrating as hell to walk into work for three days and try to squeeze a week’s worth of ideas, follow-ups and expectations into so much less time. Then I’m off from that battle to maintaining patience, taking dad for walks, long drives and otherwise keeping him occupied with some semblance of a life while attempting to live one of my own.
I think the truth of the matter and one of the reasons I’ve only recently started forcing myself to write again is because I’m exhausted. I can only imagine how exhausted my mother is, which is what keeps me going since I know she needs the help. But I’m tired. I’m tired of bouncing around from one end of the spectrum to the other with no end in sight.
A former best friend of mine once said he was trying to live his life by the motto “Do No Harm”. I admired him for that and I knew what he meant by it. He wasn’t talking about not destroying the ozone or hunting animals to extinction. He was talking interpersonal relationships. It’s been almost three years now since we last spoke and the wound still feels fresh and there’s no closure. Those wounds take the longest to heal.
The beauty of this is that I don’t feel sorry for myself. I know this because I haven’t quit. I haven’t given in. I’m not ready to admit any sort of defeat. There are options. I just need to find them and stay positive at the same time.
And if things weren’t serious enough, I’ll be in the lair of the Hong Kong Grandmother soon. If by chance I stop posting, you’ll know she finally snared me. Send help. Quickly.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
6 Responses to “Life, Love, Alzheimer’s and Prelude to the Lair of the Hong Kong Grandmother”
Dorien Grey says:
January 19, 2012 at 9:40 am
There’s nothing like seeing the real problems of others to put our own relatively small difficulties into perspective. But you have the definite advantage of having so much good in your life to balance the bad. I do admire you.
January 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm
There are days, D, when I think the rest of the world has it easier than I, there are days when I realize how I stupid I am for thinking that. It’s a bit of a vicious circle.
January 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm
I’d rather kill myself than go slowly, horribly, disappearing a little more each day, like my mother did. I don’t want to ever be a burden on my kids, either. Your parents are lucky to have you. I hope you can repair the broken friendship. Life is too short for too much anger. Beautiful post.
January 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm
Thank you, Jean. I just think that a man who spent that much of his life providing should have had a bit more time to enjoy it. Then again, maybe his enjoyment was in providing. I don’t know and I doubt I’ll ever convince myself what the truth actually is.
Sue Brown says:
January 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm
My mum died when I was 18. Her body took a few years to fail but her mind was spot on. That was easier. I can only see it now thirty years on as my friends lose their parents to dementia.
You are a good son to be such a support.
January 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm
I don’t always feel like a support, Sue. lol There are days the Alzheimer’s gets to me and I realize it’s the disease…but, oh, my God. And there’s nothing to be done about it because he’s not going to change. He’s going to get worse.