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My Alzheimer Father’s Home Visit on Chinese New Year February 9, 2011

Posted by Ian Cheng in Non Funding.
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It started with a simple thought that we should bring our Alzheimer afflicted father back home for the Chinese new year vacation. That sounds like a good idea in the beginning. In spite of my hesitation, my sister successfully persuaded me less this is probably the very last chance for our ill father to spent time with the whole family.

So, I went on the journey day before the new year eve to pick up father from the nursing home in Hualien. I was given this task because father may not recognize me either, but there is greater chance that he would go on with me on this 3hrs. train ride. I cross my fingers and hope for an event-free journey. Fortunately, everything went well and he was finally home with us since his admittance to nursing home on last May.

We all were happy and father had a puzzled funny smile on his face. Well, what more can we ask for? One done and five more days to go!

On the next day, our new year eve dinner was kind of simple and short, prepared by my niece and her French husband. Of course there are many bottles of wine served on the table, so we chat a little bit more. Then, it’s time for my father to go back to stay with my sister at her place. While we’re saying good-bye to my sister, we didn’t notice that my father was waving good-bye to my sister too. My sister and her husband left the door, and then, the rest five of us suddenly looked at one another and almost at the same time uttered: where is grandpa? ha,ha everybody forgot about him during our conversation. A simply reminder and big laugh ended this small incident.

The following couple days, my father was taken out for one small family event a day, just to keep him busy. Everything seemed ok in the beginning, but the supposed purpose of having outings for the wish to exhaust my father’s energy turned out to exhaust my sister a great deal. Things got worse everyday! Small incidents became small accidents. Beside his uncontrolled wet bed and other problems, the gas oven was turn on and left opens by him which scared us a lot. Fortunately no harm was done on those small accidents, and we still think this home visit for our father is worthy in light of these events.

On the fourth night of my father’s returning home, 2 o’clock in the midnight, a rushing buzz of door bell suddenly sounded! I was woken up to the shocking news a police officer brought to me: an unidentified elderly man was found wondering on the street in the middle of this cold wintry night, and that man could be my father. A series of question pop up in my mind while we’re assisting the police to get our father back to my sister’s house. How is possible for my father to unlock two door locks, ride the elevator downstairs and successfully go out to the street, since he was not even able to button his cloth by himself? He went out wearing with underwear only while my sister was asleep, how many hours he had been out there in the cold? How far did he go and whom did he encounter? Police told us that we’re lucky that amazingly my father still remember his own name this time and we can have him back at home this quick. Yes! We are lucky indeed! Thanks God, my father can still remember his own name, even thought he had forgotten all of our names.

It’s still a wonder to me that what would be last thing an Alzheimer patient remembers? His own or his love’s name? How about the memory of his God? On the last night at home, father slept a good long 12 hrs. Next day morning, I drove him and my sister to the train station, I saw him off just as nothing had happened before. A sudden sadness came up, not because of his not remembering these accidents occurred, but his no recollection of his couple days stay with family members, those good times and good laughs!

What’s the point? Pastor usually preaches about the funeral is not for the deceased but for the livings. But my goodness! He is still alive. We got our lessons in our heart, yet what’s for my father in the midst of all of this? Is there a time that we feel no joy, and also no pain? Something that is not a suffering and also not a good thing either? Numbness, I think maybe is a common term most people would agree upon for this kind of meaningless dilemma. Some people always search for an answer to persuade themselves with a meaning of these discomfort situations. Would it be easy just to rest on His own doing and ponder nothing else?

In any event, my sister got our father safely back to nursing home he has been used to now. She gave me a call to let me know. After few seconds of pause during our conversation, finally we both said that let’s not do this again. It’s not good for our father and there is no meaning of doing this in light of what’s happening. This Chinese new year’s home visit indeed becomes our father’s last.

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