My sister and I went to visit Dad yesterday. It took a while to find him…he wasn’t in his usual places. While my sister went through Dad’s clothes and drawers (she was hunting for his wedding ring. It’s gone missing–not an unusual thing in an Alzheimer’s wing. Clothes and belongings sort of move from room to room. But still–its loss is a source of sadness. In retrospect, we should have taken it away sooner…but it was one piece of evidence that linked him to Mom and, also, it was her father’s ring.) I went down to find someone to help me locate Dad.
A worker and I knocked on a half dozen rooms, and finally found Dad sitting in a chair in a woman’s room. He had the radio on, full-blast, tuned to a scratchy-sounding classical station. The woman in the bed was ancient, either asleep or comatose, she looked to be around 100 years old. Clearly, she was loved–a cheerful homemade quilt covered her up. But she had no awareness of Dad being there. I motioned to have him come with me and he hesitated…I think he thought he was keeping her company.
I brought a couple of photograph albums for Dad to look through. It kept his attention and gave me something to talk about…and, after a while, he started to recognize one or two family members. I don’t think he recognized my sister or me this time…but the longer we were there and looking through the photos, the more “context” seemed to help. Once or twice he pointed to someone in a picture as if he recognized the person.
As we were leaving, we walked down a hallway that held a baby bassinet, a cradle, some dolls, and some baby clothes that had been hung on the wall. I pointed to some adorable baby socks, and said to Dad that my daughter–his first grandchild–was going to be having her first baby in just eight weeks. A little boy!
Dad hadn’t really said much during our visit–but he pointed to the socks on the wall and said, “Just take ’em!”