Posts Tagged ‘personality’

Ken, Mabel and his daughters Julie and Debbie and daughters-in-law, Mary and Sabina at his 80th birthday 2005

This is, possibly, my last guest post. My mom should be back here writing next week – or soon thereafter.  Debbie Schultz

One of the blessings that came from my turn at caregiving was a chance to become reacquainted with my dad. Obviously he is not the strong, but gentle man, who raised me, helped me through a divorce, get back into school, and proudly watched me graduate from college at the age of 41. This man is definitely different, interesting in his babbling, making sense only in fragments. He was always a great storyteller, but even that aspect is gone from his tangled brain. I see his personality in layers. Some of the facial expressions I remember as a little girl, the mannerisms are still there. When I first arrived here from my home in Utah, he was lying in a hospital bed, mumbling in heavily sedated sleep. He seemed so very old and vulnerable to me. I softly stroked his head and muttered my good byes, thinking that might be the end. But like my mother, he has a tremendous will to live, and two weeks out of the hospital, he is gradually becoming his old pre-accident, self.

The disease is horrifying, taking a person a bit at a time, but in a somewhat detached way, it is also fascinating. What makes a personality? What bits and pieces of one’s history stick, and why do they stick? What jogs memories? Why do some things stand out, while others are forgotten? When asked, he will say he has no children. He confuses me with my mother, but I correct him and tell him that I am his daughter and I love him. I  especially use the technique when I am doing things he doesn’t want done, like showers. Looking in his eyes and telling him seems to calm him. I call it speaking spirit to spirit. And when my daughter goes to move something of mine, he says, “Don’t touch that, it’s my daughter’s.” For a brief moment I am remembered.

He knows he was in an accident. The first few days he was home from the hospital he complained about being stiff and sore. He told me that he hurt because a truck hit him. He knows, when he remembers, that my mother is in the hospital. His love for her, despite the forgetfulness is so evident. Besides often asking where his wife is, there is wistfulness in his wanderings. He sleeps on his side of the bed, waiting for her to come. He asks me if she is working and if so, when will she return home?   Although my voice may sound the same, my reactions are different than hers. He is confused by the similarities.

I am grateful for the opportunity that I have been given to get to know my father all over again. I have more feelings for him as I have served him these past few months. I miss the man that he once was, but I love this frail, funny, shuffling person he has become. Who knows why we go through the things we do in this life? As hateful as this disease is, it often brings out the best in the people that it touches. I have gained a new appreciation for my mother and all she has gone through as she cared for the other members of our family, who were also struck down by Alzheimer’s. The positive side of this negative situation is the opportunity I have been given to serve my father and make some effort to understand what has happened to change him. Without caring for him, there would not have been the reconnection I have felt.  When he is truly gone I will not only mourn the man my father was, I will also mourn who he has become. I am indebted for the chance that I got to know that other man.

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Ken was good today and while he assumed the Mr. Hyde personality for a little while, he wasn’t particularly threatening.  This afternoon was filled with phone calls and company, which is always nice.  Having been a social person all his life, Ken is happy to have company even if he doesn’t know who they might be.  He also knows how to “fake” it.  A visitor might ask,  “Hi, Grandpa.  Remember me?”  Ken will smile and answer.   “Can’t remember the name, but I recognize the face.”   He doesn’t, but the encounter gets his brain working, and makes a small guest happy.

Our grandson, Brain, came over for a short visit, then a few phone calls, followed by our daughter-in-law Sabina and granddaughter Jessica coming to walk the three dogs.  Jess is still on winter vacation and Keith is back at work, but the dog walk is the same.

 This evening another granddaughter, Kristina, dropped by to take a shower.  She had just returned from a long Christmas road trip to Utah and back.  With all three visits I noticed that Ken was very stimulated by  listening to our conversations even though he didn’t participate much.   Company seems to keep him as Ken (or brings him back to being Ken). 

During the day my husband can change to any one of the-before-mentioned personalities:  Mr. Hyde,  Buddy, who even though he is still a youngster claims to own this house where he believes he was born, having received it as a gift from his father and mother who live here, but are away.  Buddy tells me he is not married, has no children and no family other than his sister, Loretta.   Mr. Hyde often looks at me and asks, “Where is my wife?” or “Where’s the boss?”  He still sees me as someone very young, going to school and needs to call her parents to come and get her when it is time to go home. 

Buddy wants me gone from the house and is very protective of it.   Both of these newcomers into my life can be mean, threatening and combative if provoked, and it doesn’t take much to set them off.   I dislike the two intensly, but I believe they cling to Ken’s basic upbringing about respecting women, other than females they consider intruders in the home (of which I am one).  If I do feel threatened I just lock myself in the office until Ken reappears.

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