MY KIDS’ DAD
My kids have a dad in a nursing home who is sometimes embarrassingly filthy when they come to visit. Sometimes he is wearing clothes that do not belong to him. Sometimes he says f*** you to them but never if our granddaughter Charlotte is there.
This is not what the kids thought their lives would be like. Their dad should be giving them advice on their careers or on buying a house. Instead, he put them in debt like I am. He left them all reeling with emotions. They can’t help but be angry and scared.
It’s not pretty — this frontotemporal dementia (FTD). And it’s a big job gathering the courage to go see Barry each day. But my kids do it. My biggest fear was that we would all scatter to the four winds when Barry was diagnosed. (I even wanted to run away.) But no one ran away, and there was forgiveness along with much sadness for the loss of the father they used to have.Kelly visits a lot with her husband and Charlotte. Pat lives in New York but calls often and visits when he is in town. Mike goes to visit Barry most weeks as well. Mike also lived with Barry when he was first diagnosed. Mike had to grow up quickly. I am glad he moved out so he could do the things 25-year-olds do!
On Father’s Day this year, we went to the care center, bringing breakfast for Barry. The kids gave him cards and gift certificates to Dairy Queen. Pat called from New York. It’s not what any of us really wanted to be doing because Barry usually just gets up and walks away when we come. But on this day, he sat the whole time; and even with FTD hanging over us all, we had a few good laughs.
This is a tough time for my kids. But when we first learned of Barry’s FTD, I reminded them that as a family we have never had a really awful thing happen to us, and that now it’s our turn.
When I got home from the care center, I checked Facebook and saw that all three kids had posted a picture of Barry in better days and wished him a happy Father’s Day. I was so proud! My kids are awesome and a lot stronger now than they were before FTD came into our lives. We are going to make it!