This blog intimately addresses some of the challenging and pertinent aspects of my relationship with my father following the loss of a much-loved life long partner, the onset of dementia and the ensuing life changes that such transformations bring. I believe that this blog will appeal to anyone out there who is grappling with the blurring of roles from child to carer, and for all those who are fortunate enough to truly love, and be loved by one’s parents. This is a dedicated blog about a father/daughter relationship. My other blog on wellbeing, laughter and happiness can be viewed atLaughLife blog. The first entry that I would like to share was originally published in theWeekend Australian.
“My stomach silently trembles with ripples of anxiety. This will be the first time he has gone away on his own, in this new chapter of life. I hope he will be OK, that people will be kind and inclusive, perhaps offering him a seat beside them or welcoming him into their conversation. I hope he makes a good impression, not embarrassing himself in the company of strangers.
He doesn’t have to get along with everyone, but one easy friendship would be wonderful.
His bag is perched on the couch and has been there for the entire week, with only minor changes to its shapely form. I wonder whether he has sufficient pairs of socks, enough warm clothes or enough cool clothes. And, of course, clean underwear, precluding any need for an emergency hand wash.
Independence is to be highly valued, so I don’t want to seem too interfering. I watch from a distance, subtly channelling my concerns in as delicate a fashion as I can manage. Yet I want to maximise his chances of a happy and fulfilling trip, filled with good memories and as little stress as is humanly possible.
Not everything can be left to chance, so after some hesitation, I call the tour company voicing my concerns, trying to find out everything I can. The calm and pleasant voice on the other end of the phone is very reassuring, and as I place the receiver down I heave a huge sigh of relief. He will be in good hands.
It is now the night before the big day. The countdown is drawing to an end and a new one about to begin. I sense in him an underlying anxiety, which I don’t think I am imagining or projecting on to him.
I reassure him, telling him this will be great for him and, if worst comes to worst, it’s only a week.
Overcome with emotion, my brain doesn’t even have time to process that tears have begun streaming down my face. I didn’t think I would cry but I just can’t help it. I am so grateful he can’t see me in this state. He can’t. We don’t even share the same house, although for many years we did. I wish him a good night and wonderful week ahead, once again reminding him to take his mobile phone. What a strange and unsettling feeling watching him go away on his own.
I hope all will be OK, that this will have been a good decision. I have to relinquish my feelings of concern.
Before losing his wife after almost 60 years, holidays had been defined by joint experiences and shared memories.
I need to step back and accept that this is his journey and I can only watch from a distance. Safe travels, Dad”.