Don’t cry Daddy

I visited my parents today. I brought my mom a chicken sandwich from Burger King with fries for my dad, as I usually do. French fries are one of the few foods Dad can still eat easily. Dad was asleep in the lift recliner in the living room while Mom and I ate in the kitchen. So we saved the fries for later, as we usually do.

Dad dozed on and off the entire time I was there which is pretty typical. He usually takes a nap from about 11:30 or 12:00 until 3:00 or 4:00.

After we finished eating, Mom and I sat in the living room. Dad continued to doze on and off. I tried to talk to him briefly during the times his eyes were open. He was pretty unresponsive, but that too is typical when he is tired or sleepy or has just woken up.

Often we talk around him now, as if he were an inanimate object in the room. Many times he pays no attention and never responds in any fashion, even to direct yes or no questions that require only a nod or shake of the head. When he is non-responsive, we talk around him.

Meanwhile, I helped Mom with some insurance paperwork she had. I cleaned off her email inbox. I showed her how to access her email on the Kindle Fire we bought her for her birthday last Tuesday. All the while Dad dozed on and off in the lift recliner covered with a light sheet, occasionally waking to watch the History Channel playing on the television across the room.

Often we live around dad now, as if he were an inactive occupant of the room.

I don’t have any idea what he is thinking, what he realizes, whether he cares that we talk and live around him. I wish I did. I truly wish I knew what he was thinking.

I wish I could talk to him and ask his opinion about something, anything. I always valued his opinions, checking my reasoning with his response, learning from his down-to-earth brand of common sense.

I wish he were a participant in our conversations. I wish he were a participant in our lives.

When it was time to go, I went over and hugged and kissed him as I always do, and he began to cry as he often does.

I don’t know why he cries.

“Don’t cry, Daddy,” I say. “It’s alright. Everything is going to be alright.”

I don’t know whether he believes me.

I don’t believe myself.

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33 thoughts on “Don’t cry Daddy”

  1. I knew from the title this would be a hard post to read. You are such a good daughter. Talking “around” him is to be expected at this point, I would imagine, even though it is not what you want to be doing. Your strength and continued devotion are amazing and I have to believe that he knows of your love and dedication to him. Grab the moments of lucidity when they occur and cling to them. What you are doing for your mom is also the most wonderful gift—being there and just supporting her is absolutely what she needs also. Bless you, Christine.

    1. I do try to grab the moments of lucidity, although it seems to me they are coming less and less. I think he knows I love him. I tell him all the time, and I tell him I am proud of him. It’s hard.

  2. They say hearing is one of the last things to go. I am sure he enjoyed your company and felt comforted hearing your voices, even if he cannot make his muscles move to answer. I think he’s crying because your visit is ending – he is aware of your presence and he loves you so.

    1. I’ve heard that before too. He still has times when he is alert and somewhat responsive, even thought he rarely speaks even a single word. He does shake and nod his head for no and yes. I think he was crying because I was leaving too. Thank you for your support.

  3. Your dad caught in his own world, sometimes touching yours. Just know that I feel for you all. Hold on, Christine. It must be hard to be strong all the time, for you and your Mom.

    1. Thanks, Marion. I like the way you expressed it: Dad caught in his own world, sometimes touching mine. I appreciate your thoughts. Mostly I’m doing okay. Occasionally I have a weak moment or two.

  4. This has to be so frustrating for you and your mother and I guess it must be very frustrating for your father. This is a mystery that I hope will be unraveled one day so others won’t have to go through this experience.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

    1. It’s been extremely frustrating for my mother, although lately she seems to have more patience with it all. Wouldn’t that be amazing if someone were able to unravel the mystery and repair it.

  5. God, Christine, this post broke my heart. How painful this must be for you. I swear, this is one of the most beautifully written and poignant pieces I have read in a long while. Hugs to you, my dear!
    Kathy

    1. It’s really an exercise in denial largely, and focus on the moment. I have to concentrate my attention on the here and now because if my mind wanders to before or after, it really becomes tough. Thanks for the hugs and the kind words, Kathy.

  6. Christine, What a touching post–your words at the end really struck a chord in me. I wanted to reach out and give you a big hug. Why does he cry? That in itself makes the situation even harder.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I’m pretty sure he cries because I’m leaving, but beyond that I don’t know why. Does he think it’s the last time he’ll see me? Does he want me to rescue him from his sad existence? I don’t know. The crying does make the situation immensely more difficult. I have to harden myself to it to some degree or I become nearly non-functional.

  7. Very poignant post, Christine. My heart hurts for you and your family. What a blessing your visits must be for your mom. Just take one day at a time, that’s enough for anyone to do.

    1. Thank you, Joss. This is a very hard way to lose a parent, or spouse, or sibling. I know there are many others out there who are struggling with the same or a similar experience. The lesson here is to be kind to whomever you meet because you never know what heart burden they carry.

    1. Thanks, William. It’s nice of you to care. I know that we are not the only people who have to go through a trial like this. Life is hard sometimes.

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