Yesterday after my brother’s hearing we were hanging out at the Arch for awhile when my dad pulled me aside. He told me that the judge had a message that he wanted Dad to deliver to me, and then he started in on this whole conversation that “he’d had with the judge.” I stood there and listened to him completely fabricate a conversation with the judge that never happened. I was in the courtroom with him and the judge the whole time. There was not a one second period of time that I wasn’t right there with them. Yet here he was telling me all these things that the judge wanted our family to know.
My father has always been a fantastic story teller. When we were kids he would spin these wild yarns about him fishing for Charlie the Tuna and the great adventures that they would have under the sea. He would tell us the story of his great polar bear hunting trip that ended with him dancing with the polar bear. He had a knack for spinning a tale and we Ate. It. UP! As kids. The grandchildren would beg him to tell a story and he happily obliged.
In the past few years the stories have escalated. But they haven’t been stories as in “Hey ya’ll, it’s story telling time and I’m going to tell you a whopper” but more like a “Hey ya’ll, you’ll never guess what really, truly happened to me” story that never really truly happened. All of us, my siblings and the grandkids, have noticed that his reality is not our reality. The last few times I’ve seen him I’ve noticed the stories have increased in absurdity. But to sit there and listen to him tell me about a conversation I know for a fact never happened because I was standing right there makes me very sad. I don’t argue with him. I don’t try to correct him. Because I know that he is either early stage Alzheimers or dealing with some level of dementia.
I know I’m not the first person to watch their aging parent lose touch with reality, but it’s not a great feeling. I’m not sure how to deal with this. To this point, I have dealt with it by just letting him talk. I don’t point out the flaws in his memory. I just let him talk. I don’t see the point in arguing with him because I’m sure that in his mind, what he’s saying is exactly how he sees it happening.
It looks like I’m once again entering a new phase of life. A phase where I will be dealing with the process of losing a parent. Perhaps not physically, but mentally. He is not the man I grew up with. He’s barely the man that I knew a year ago. I don’t know how much the past couple of years dealing with having one of his sons in jail has sped this up, or if it would have happened regardless. All I know is that it really sucks to watch your parents grow old.