A tribute to Hugh Asselstine
I was not my Dad’s favourite daughter. Nay, I was not my Dad’s favourite child. You can ask my two brothers and 1 sister. They will say the same. So….imagine the surprise, when out of the blue, Dad calls and says he’s coming “for a visit”
That was 10 years ago! He’s still here!!
My siblings see the irony and take great pleasure in reminding me. If you notice a slight cast in the rain, that’s my Mom peeing her pants in heaven from laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
But I take it all in stride. For, you see, my Dad has dementia. And I love him.
Dad, like many people with dementia, has no short term memory. They live in the present, in the NOW. And there are many great scholars that believe that the past is irrelevant, and the future unknown so all we have is to live in the moment. And after this past week that I’ve had, it is very nice to crawl into his headspace and visit for awhile.
I’ll give you two examples of how this works. First:
“Dad can I have twenty bucks? “
“Thanks Dad. You know it’s getting chilly out, let me get you some warmer socks. Here you are. Dad you got any money you can lend me? 20 dollars, thanks”
“You know, Dad, do you remember when you used to work at the Globe and Mail and have a beer after work. Do you have 20 bucks?”
“I ain’t got no money, now Scram”
Well, so maybe it doesn’t work all the time!
The second example is: Because Dad has no memory of past or can perceive future, he is always hungry! He doesn’t remember eating at dinner time and supper time will never come in his mind. We were at the Tyne Valley Blueberry festival this past summer and I got him a big slice of homemade blueberry pie and ice cream and coffee and he polished that off in no time and I went to put the plate in the garbage and returned and he grumbled that everyone was eating pie and where was his piece? So I showed him the blueberry stains on his shirt sleeves but he insisted he was hungry so I got him a huge piece of blueberry cake and ice cream and sat down to listen to the entertainment. He hands me the empty plate and says “Oh I’m full! I can’t eat another bite!” It’s starting to cloud over at this point so I tell him to stay put and I’ll go get the umbrellas from the car. I come back to the chairs and he’s not there. Now this is one of my biggest fears with Dad, is his wandering, but there’s a commotion at a nearby picnic table and it’s Dad eating someone else’s blueberry pie!! Embarrassing!!!
Luckily everyone was so nice to me and I got him away from the table, and back to the car just before it begins to rain and I shake my fist up to the sky and say “It’s not funny Mom!!”
But, it is now.
So aside from the tummy aches, and somewhat lighter wallet, Dad has no cares, no worries. He lives in the here and now, in the moment, always in the present. And isn’t that a nice place to be. My Dad has dementia and I love my Dad!
© Kelly Gillis