This is a Really Real Aging Parents post.

Dad had a really rough evening tonight.

He slept for a long while this afternoon and he was so tired that when I was getting him into bed at 2 pm, he was falling asleep before we even got him adjusted up on the bed. He woke up about 4 hours later, and was stumbling on words, lots of 1 word answers, and lots of “I don’t know.” He ate something little, and wanted to go back to bed.Within 10 minutes of getting him in bed he was yelling for me and saying he wanted steak, there was a discussion about how we’d have steak tomorrow, it needed to thaw. I suggested shrimp and he said I should bake them for 90 minutes. When I said I wasn’t baking them for 90 minutes, but that I would cook them my way, he said “Damnit, I wanted steak, forget it then.”5 minutes later he wanted up, he tried to peel frozen shrimp, then after I asked him 3 or 4 times he let me run them under water to thaw. He peeled them and told me to cook them in a way that I never would have thought of (directly on the oven rack), for 9 minutes instead of 90 . . that made more sense.Not long ago I said that I’d need to go to bed soon, we’ve been up since 6:30 am, and I wasn’t able to nap when he did because I had other stuff that needed to be done. A few minutes later he said why don’t you put me in bed so you can sleep.He doesn’t say please or thank you at all to me as he’s weakly barking orders. There’s lots of pointing, lots of repeating a word over and over again and getting frustrated when I’m not looking in the right place (like he’ll tell me something is in the drawer, and keep pointing to a specific drawer and getting frustrated when I’m not finding it, then he’ll realize he didn’t mean drawer, he meant pantry. Or he’ll say computer, and I’ll ask if he wants to go to the computer and he’ll say “not computer, computer” until he finally finds the word he actually meant.)

I’ve spent my life trying to anticipate his needs to avoid his anger, now I’m trying to anticipate his needs because he can’t communicate them with me all of the time.And it’s heart breaking, because his brain is still there for the most part. When he’s having good moments, we have in depth conversations about stuff, but his speech is fading and there are more and more moments when he’s stumbling and stuttering on words.We spent the early part of the afternoon discussing memories with the hospice nurse. Some of my favorite childhood moments happened with my father (but also most of the worst ones). Seeing him light up when talking about shark fishing, and crabbing, and taking me up in a piper plane and showing me he could fly it. I saw emotion on his face, which isn’t seen often. His illness leaves him with a wide eyed, emotionless, stare.90 percent of the time he calls me Aimee (my sister’s name) and sometimes he’ll correct it without me saying anything. He knows who I am, but the wrong name comes out.As I was turning off his light tonight he said “Thank you, Tina, for helping me.”I didn’t realize how much closure this experience would provide.

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