A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

Friday, March 06, 2015

An Elephant Never Forgets

What I write about often ends up being very different from what I planned. My family went to the circus this past weekend. I love the circus. I love how terrible and campy it is. I love the animals. I love the elephants even though I'm glad Ringling is going to STOP using them. I love all of it.

My children do too. We have our traditions, which treats we get, toys AFTER the circus, family photo with all of us.
I want to make memories with my children, so that one day when I'm gone they'll remember these days and these moments. 

That's what my mind is on, memories.

My Dad has had an issue with his memory for some time. He's gotten things wrong, he's been just more than a bit off now and again. Since his heart attack he was more so, and my brother and I have been so very worried.

They assured us at the hospital that very normal people can be a bit wacky after heart attacks. He forgot how many daughters he had. He thought I was a twin, he thought my twin and I were lawyers. He got confused on time and date and the details of his life. After his bypass we learned that dementia post ICU was also a thing. Very common, don't worry, it's very stressful.

I think we both knew though, it wasn't the heart attack, it wasn't the ICU. There's been a thing looming with my dad. We knew what it was, but today I heard him say it on the phone.

"I told my therapist," he said to me. "That I've got dementia so I'm sorry if I say something out of line."

That is now tied with "Our baby died" as the most heartbreaking thing I've ever heard my dad say. My dad is still here. And today he knew he has dementia. His mind is unraveling. I wonder what that feels like, inside his head. I find it terrifying to consider, and it's happening to my dad. He won't remember his life correctly. I don't know what he'll lose, what he'll keep. I don't know how this works. How DOES this work? I guess we'll get a diagnosis with a neurologist, and we'll learn more.

My dad wasn't always a good guy. In fact a lot of the time he could be a real son of a bitch. But he was always the guy who took me to see Cinderella when I was three, and all of the Grizzly Adams movies. He took me to ride my big wheel at the college, he took me to feed the horses at the fair grounds. We'd ride around in his Satellite and sing American Pie loudly with the windows down, while he drank beer. I'd hold them for him sometimes. For some reason that memory doesn't even horrify me.My dad was the guy who lost me in the Gulf of Mexico under a wave and I never saw such terror on his face as when he pulled me from the water gasping for air. My dad was who I wanted to come home when I was sick, even though it was always my mom who took care of me.

I'm making memories with my own family that I hope that some day they'll look back on, even despite my own failures, and realize how much I love them. I take them to the circus, and sometimes a 12 year old gets an elephant he coveted since he was a very, VERY little boy. Even though it's stupidly expensive.
I can't buy love but I can add a little cement on the memories maybe. I remember so many of their days, I can't imagine that in my life it could happen that some day I'll start to lose the details. This is unthinkable. I can't lose the thread and let all this magic slip away.

I've always believed that your children are your immortality.

I feel like my brother and I are being called to now be our dad's. It should be hard to forgive such a large catalog of asshattery but I'm finding it's not. I just remember, as my brother well knows, that R is for Race, and D is for Drag, and I feel sad that maybe my dad doesn't remember our joke and I forgive him everything.