|Me and Pops|
I've written and re-written this post about my dad about 20 times so far this morning and I just can't seem to get it right. What can I say about a man who I've had a wonderful, loving, tumultuous, often heartbreaking relationship? There are, of course, always deep layers to any child/parent relationship, but sometimes something happens that takes things to another level. Sometimes something hits you from out of the blue and changes everything.
About four years ago I started getting reports from my mom and my dad's nephew that my dad seemed a little "off". He was still living in my hometown of Durango, CO, and I was in NY so I rarely saw him and, let's me honest, my mom can be a little overdramatic at times. When I talked to my dad on the phone he confirmed that he felt weird, but that he thought it might have been because of the varnish he used on the wood floors in his house. My dad, among other things, was a great handiman. I agreed that it was probably the varnish because I knew telling him to go to the doctor would do nothing. When I was a child he, with bare feet, stepped on a nail while climbing off a ladder. The nail when straight through his foot and it took hours of pleading with him to get him to go to the doctor. I'm pretty sure he went only after he'd pulled the nail out himself. Now we see where I get my stubborness from, yes? Eventually my dad was unable to do math and button up his shirt and so my mom - still friends with him though they'd divorced when I was 8 - took him to a hospital in Albuquerque where they could see a specialist. I knew seeing a doctor was hard for him, but it was necessary - they confirmed that he had the signs of early-onset Alzheimer's.
About a year after the diagnosis my dad came to see me in NY and his decline was obvious. Trying in some way to comfort him, I bought him a CD player so when things got to be too much he could turn it on and listen to Willie, Paul or Ray and relax. I showed him how to use the CD player and he just couldn't understand it. That's when the reality hit me that he was bad and getting worse.
My dad now lives in a nursing home on Long Island and he's living a very happy life. The nurses love him and my sister, Kelsey, is about 20-minutes away and can visit often. He gets postcards and letters from his friends and family and I visit whenever I can. It sucks that this is where he is and that a brilliant artist and wonderful man has to spend the last years of his life in a home. It goddamn sucks.
Sunday, October 24th I will be walking with Matt, my sister and her husband Frank to raise money for Alzheimer's and Dementia research through the Alzheimer's Association. I'd love to raise more than I raised last year and that's where you come in. I know there are a lot of great causes out there and I think you should donate to any you believe in, but if you have a few extra bucks you'd like to give toward a cause close to my heart, my appreciation would be out of this world.
You can donate by visiting my walk page, or by purchasing one of Gilda's adorable items through our "Gilda Fights Alzheimer's" Cafe Press store. Either way would be more than appreciated by me and my entire family!