A week ago, my sister Lisa called me and said our father had fallen on his way into his senior living facility after she and Mama had taken him outside. She said he crumpled, as if in slow motion, and fell onto a low concrete wall. She hoped the fall would result in nothing more than a bad bruise, but the facility’s doctor advised taking x-Rays to be sure.
Their findings were suspicious enough that they suggested further testing at the hospital. After much emergency room ado, we learned that Daddy had joined the one-third of Americans age 65 and over who suffer broken hips every year.
Dementia complicates Daddy’s situation considerably because he cannot fathom what is going on, wants to walk when he cannot walk, refuses to wear the protective socks to diminish the possibility of post-surgery blood clots, and wants his street shoes so he can walk back to his senior living facility. He doesn’t understand what the surgery was, and was quite shocked when he found that he had scar on his right side.
To those of you who have never been around dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you may imagine that victims are completely vegetative and unresponsive. Yet, many patients with these diminished memories, live comfortably, and understand a great deal–especially about the past.
Coincidentally, Daddy’s fall occurred around the time that women’s sports legend Coach Pat Head Summitt was dying from Azheimer’s in another Knoxville, Tennessee, senior living facility. In Pat’s glory years, Daddy wouldn’t miss a home game, and he and Mama traveled around the world with the Lady Vol national-championship teams of the 1990s.
Now Daddy is learning to walk and regain his balance with his new hip, and Pat’s passing has been acknowledged and her life celebrated by people around the world.
While we were waiting at the hospital’s emergency room, Daddy turned to me and said, “You are the one that cuts my hair, right?”
“Yes, I am,” I said.
That conversation reminded me of the final scene of the final episode of “Wallander” on PBS. Kenneth Branagh plays the title character Wallander, who is trying to come to terms with being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Wallander stands on the beach communing with the spirit of his long-dead father and said, “It’s just moments now, Dad. Everything. It’s just moments now. They don’t join up.”
His father said in return, “What don’t?”
“My memories, my life it doesn’t join up. I can’t remember,” said Wallander.
His father replied, “Someone else will remember. Someone else will remember for you.”
That’s what I do for Daddy; I remember for him.
//Anna ~ 6/30/2016