“The Old Man”
By Christopher C. Haner
My Old Man was a hell of a guy: fun, handsome, loyal and compassionate. He had a million friends and was admired by many. He seemed to have the perfect life, except for one thing - the Old Man never lived to be an Old Man, but died at 57.
Hobbies, passions and career slipped away from the Old Man as dementia took its hold. No more 5:00 a.m. calls to attention on weekends so we could be the first persons on the ski slope; no more rides in the Frito Lay truck to meet the many merchants I came to know well over the years helping my father on his sales route; no more chopping, splitting and curing firewood. Those days were gone, as was most of what I remember so fondly of the Old Man.
The worst moment finally came when my mother and father had to sell the family home tucked away among acres of forest in the Berkshire Hills - there was no one left who could plow the driveway, no one left to cut back the constant undergrowth from the forest, no one left who could be trusted during the weekdays not to leave the stove on, crash the car, get lost in the woods. Those days were gone. The Old Man’s frequent protests – often expressed in long sobs through rivers of tears - as we moved him from the only place he ever called home, that his best ax and chainsaw were given to friends, his car donated to charity, his brooms, dust pans and tools boxed away or thrown out, seemed to fall on deaf ears, as nothing could stop the work which needed to be done.
When he died, I cried. Tears of relief, tears of frustration, tears of sadness. It was over.
I walk in the hope that people will gain a sense of understanding for the families battling dementia. The occasional highs and the many lows.
Know that you are not alone as there are people out there who understand, and the Old Man - - oh the Old Man - - the Old Man looks down upon you with understanding, and to your prayers, only answers “Thank you.”
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