In hindsight, I should have realized I was dreaming, because ever time I tried to get settled in some place where I could read the manuscript, I was interrupted. I could not read more than a few words before something random would occur. The last thing I remember was sitting in the back of a friend's car, and a friend of his rolling down the window, as this great wind whipping through the car, causing me scrambling to keep the manuscript from flying out the window. I was desperate to save my father's manuscript, and even though it was all over the inside of the car, I managed to hold onto it.
It was disappointing to wake up and find no such manuscript. Although rummaging through some of my father's things after he moved in last Winter, I did come across some IRS tax codes typed out (on an actual typewriter!) on extra large manila index cards. For some reason, even this fascinated me. Imagine how I would have felt had I found a secret manuscript for father left behind!
I think the drive for me to write, perhaps now more than ever, is a desire to leave behind 'something' by which my family can recognize me in the future, beyond a photograph which is what we mostly leave behind as humans but by which measures such a small portion of who we 'are'.
My father has Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is such a mysterious illness. Being able to remember is more important to me than being able to see, than being able to hear, than being able to speak. However, those afflicted are often not equitably treated. It is easy to become frustrated with Dad's actions, because it seems so unbelievable that you could forget where the bathroom is located, not realize what house you live in, or confuse your daughter for your wife. But seriously, would you ever yell at a blind person for bumping into a table? Would you snap at a deaf person for not answering the door when the doorbell rings?
Yesterday, I became really frustrated with him at shower time. I put the shampoo in Dad's hair and scrub it before he gets in the shower, so that all he has to do is rinse it out, which saves us both the embarrassment of me actually going in the shower with him. It's hard to tell how the experience will go, depending on how bad of a day Dad is having...and often, depending on how bad of a day I am having. I was rushing him more than usual on this day because I was also trying to watch the two babies, since Dana was at work. Luckily, Seth was on-hand to help out, but Liam was completely insane and would not let me out of his sight without hollering. So, I'm lugging Liam around, and giving Dad prompts one-at-a-time from the outside of the bathroom door.
The water went off too quickly, I thought, but Dad acted offended when I asked him if he had really cleaned up, and I gave him a break. It's a hard position for either of us to be in, with him standing there dripping wet in a towel and his daughter in front of him, demanding if he 'really' cleaned himself...
I showed him to his bedroom at the end of the hall, and pointed him to his clothing on the bed. He came out, mostly dressed, and I thought this isn't so bad...until I combed his hair, and realized it still had shampoo in it.
I should have washed it out in the sink, but I didn't want to freak him out and thought it might be easier to have him get back in the shower.
This proved to be stupid. By the end of the experience of getting back in the shower, getting out of the shower, and trying to get redressed, Dad was almost in tears and said to me that he never wanted to do this again. I felt horrible. Dad put his t-shirt on under his pants, and we had to rip it to get it back off. After struggling with this for a good five minutes, I went to brush his hair again.
I wanted to pound my head against the wall. Dad still had shampoo in his hair.
How could I have been so stupid as to not check this?
I ended up rinsing it out in the sink, which surprisingly, wasn't as bad as what I had just put us both through. I was frustrated at myself, but also, I felt frustrated with Dad for not being able to just do it. And realizing how stupid it was to get frustrated with someone who obviously was not doing this on purpose made me even more frustrated because I just felt like a Nazi!
In the evening, I took a shower, and as I was stepping out of the shower to towel dry, I realized I had left conditioner in my hair and I laughed. If I didn't laugh, I might have just cried.