“Ok, if you need anything, just let me know. My name is Brooke.“
“Brooke. That’s a pretty name.”
As a child of someone with Alzheimer’s, you know the day inevitably will come that your parent will forget you. You try your best to steel yourself. To prepare for it. But how can you possibly prepare to be forgotten by someone who brought you into this world?
Up until he forgot me, I honestly never, ever thought I wouldn’t still be able to call him Dad. I just assumed I always would. When that concept hit me, it hit me HARD. Alzheimer’s had already taken so much of my dad, did it really have to rob me of calling him Dad too? I swore it wouldn’t.
But this disease is so much more powerful than you, me, or the promises we make to ourselves.
A couple months ago, he started getting visibly very agitated whenever my brother or I called him Dad, since in his mind he doesn’t have any children. We discussed it with our mom and, to ease his anxiousness, we decided that when we are around him we’ll call him Glen like everyone else. The thought of calling him by his first name crushed me. I cried a lot, mourning my dad yet again. Alzheimer’s is cruel enough, but then it has little sucker punches like this that it throws at you when you are already down.
But then I did it. I called him Glen. And a strange thing happened in me.
Before calling him Glen, I had a lot of emotions bubbling at the surface – I still do, some days. But calling him Glen helped me see him as someone I care about deeply, who my mom takes care of, and who we visit.
But, as much as we love him, that’s no longer my dad.
My dad lit up the room when he entered it. My dad knew everyone, and everyone seemed to know him. My dad gave the best advice, cracked the funniest jokes, was my number 1 fan (alongside my mom, of course), and he truly, truly believed in me. I knew no matter what I did, he knew I could do it.
Dad was my hero. And although he’s right in front of me, he’s gone.
Since calling him Glen, I have more patience now and a little less anger bubbling at the surface. I’m not as hurt to be forgotten as I was even 2 months ago.
Because by calling him Glen, I found a way to separate my dad from this disease that has taken over. In a crazy way, finding that separation somehow feels like the one upper-hand I have over this hell-on-earth disease.
I had no idea that NOT calling him Dad would bring me some peace. But I’ll take it.