READER'S ROCK LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE VOL 2 ISSUE 4 NOVEMBER 2014 Vol. 1 Issue 3 September 2013 - Page 73

The DEMENTIA DANCE We thought perhaps he was over exaggeratwe couldn’t spot The First Clue Whether Mom could survive alone after Dad’s death became a moot point the day of the viewing. The revelation hit us like a ton of bricks. The immediate family had gathered at the house where Mom and Dad spent nearly forty years, keeping busy until the bewitching hour came to travel as a caravan to the local funeral home for the viewing. Small talk and nervous laughter prevailed, along with a few lame jokes to lighten the atmosphere. Mostly, however, there was sadness and silence. Suddenly, out of that silence, Mom asked, “Who died?” Her eyes were shining and she had a radiant smile on her face. My siblings and I looked at each other and froze. Surely what we thought we heard was not what Mom said. We stared at her. There she sat, dressed in her Sunday best--a gray striped suit and long-sleeved red blouse peeking out from under the neck and sleeves of her jacket--ready for the viewing. Unsure of what to say, I leaned over her and whispered, “Mom, Dad died.” “Oh,” she said casually, fiddling with her white, lacy handkerchief, as if it were just another day. I was numb, still trying to process what had just happened while retaining my composure. What on earth was going on? Dad had told us kids during our visits over the prior couple of years that Mom was failing, and how much it distressed him. He would sit in his rocker; chin quivering, tears rolling down his cheeks, muttering,“It hurts to see her like this.” Dad was, by nature, emotional, and cried often as he grew older, especially after our Brother Ron died in an automobile accident in 2003. ing the situation because, try as we may, any changes in Mom. I am ashamed to say that not one of us pushed for details. The few times we did, he would simply say, “She’s just…different”, and let it go at that. That particular response was not unusual in our family. The saying was, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” More than once I heard Mom say that if she had cancer, she didn’t want to know about it. And, when Dad would come home from a doctor’s visit and we questioned him about details, he would counter with, “I don’t know. I didn’t ask.” As mentioned above, we couldn’t spot any difference in mom when we were in the presence of the two of them. Dad had always been the outgoing one of the two, often answering for her. It was a dance they had played for years… him in the spotlight; her, second fiddle. Mom still baked our favorite desserts for us when we visited, hugged us and seemed happy. Plus, she looked the same, dressed in her jeans or slacks and shirts or sweaters, shoes always tied. If her hair wasn’t curled, we figured it was time for a perm. It wasn’t until after Dad died and I picked up his medical records, plus hers, from the physician’s office that I saw she had been diagnosed with ‘onset of dementia’ (short-term memory loss) two years before. I could hardly get my breath after reading that and realizing how insensitive we had all been to Dad’s plea for help. It was a sin of omission that we had to live with. CLICK TO PURCHASE PAPERBACK CLICK TO PURCHASE EBOOK