Sunday, July 12, 2009

On the outside, looking in.

This week was my mom's birthday (happy birthday, Mom!). We always have a barbecue to celebrate with all the kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. Today was the day.

I admit that while I see my mom and sisters regularly, I don't see my dad like I want, or like I probably should. So we left a little earlier than normal for the family gathering to stop and see my dad. It was the first visit for Shane to my dad's new home, and my kids first visit in a long time.

We arrived just as my dad's sacrament meeting was letting out (they do a special one for the residents each Sunday). My Uncle Monte was walking out, and we got to stop and chat with him. Seeing my talking, laughing, communicating uncles is now a painful reminder of who my dad isn't anymore. It is possible to glimpse a little of the person he was while talking to his brothers. Their fidgety, long-winded, self-deprecating conversations are so familiar, but come from the wrong source. I want to rail against something, anything, that can explain why my dad is the one who fades each month that passes by.

We found Dad in the TV room after saying our good-bye's to Monte. He was sitting as close as possible to the TV blaring in Spanish, his long feet crossed out in front of him. He looked right at me as I went up to him. His brown eyes seemed to recognize me, and yet it didn't translate to the rest of his face. Our visit was full of me trying to brightly fill in with a conversation that was completely one-sided. He repeated a few things to me, but he wasn't there. I waited the whole visit for my dad to show, but he never did. Gone are even the days of a few months ago, when he would reach for me and want to hug me. Gone are the days of his tight hugs that desperately tried to convey his feelings. Gone are the days when he would say my name. I can't even get a flash of recognition at a mention of our old life together.

So I sit, with the rest of those who love him, on the outside. We look at him, we knock, we wait for him to answer, but we are kept outside. He can't let us in anymore. And it just makes me sad for all the times before, when I didn't know it was my last hug, or last utterance of my name, or last I love you. Sad for all the milestones that I'll soon lose: watching him gulp down a drink I give him, looking into his eyes and seeing him look back (however vague), watching him stand up and shuffle back to the chair in front of the Spanish TV.

Sad that I can't unlock the door for him and let him out, whatever "out" should mean.


Melanie said...

You expressed yourself so well in this post. It brought tears to my eyes. I'm so sorry you have to go through this with your dad - I can't imagine how sad it would be.

BTW - cute new look for your blog!

Jeanette said...

Your posts about your dad absolutely break my heart. I can't imagine what it is like to watch someone you love fade away and become a hollow shell who looks like the person you love, but isn't.

Chris Selander said...

Beautifully written. Your dad has a very special place in my heart. Big hug to you!