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death in the family and not living in reality...


Registered User
Feb 17, 2012
This is just a kind of update really.
Things have pretty much settled down since christmas. Now we are back in a routine dad seems less confused and more willing to accept help from me, his carers and the day care centre he goes to twice a week. For a while he was getting quite upset at the thought of having to go back to 'that place' again, but I persevered and he came back last Tuesday telling me had a lovely time. Someone there convinced him to do a drawing of our cat ( he was an artist), and he spent a couple of hours on Monday doing that, and painting it too. That's the first time in a very long time he's carried such a thing through to the end and I was happy that someone had got him to do that. All my suggestions in the past have been rejected, from fear, I believe.
Anyway, I've been reading posts about people giving bad news on here lately. I know my stance on it- no way. Dad's memory of his life is so far from the reality that it would take an extreme effort just to make him understand what I was talking about and even then he most likely wouldn't believe me. The only fact he seems to have retained is that his parents are dead- something he tells me at least once a day as if it happened weeks ago, rather than twenty years ago. As for anything else? Well if he doesn't remember either of his wives or any of his children who am I to contradict him (though I still find it strange that he accepts me calling him dad)?
I am getting to the point here. I got a phone call last week from a cousin I haven't heard from in over a decade to tell me that my aunt had died. Breast cancer- which we knew nothing about. I guess reticence runs in the family. I managed to explain our situation to her on the phone as she wanted to talk to dad and she was willing to leave things in my hands. I think my news shocked her as much as hers did me. My aunt was my dad's brother's wife. His brother died quite suddenly about five years ago- a very aggressive tumour. It was shocking at the time, and his wife kind of drifted away from us after that- nothing much other than a card at christmas, which hurt a little. But then we didn't know she was ill.
I haven't told dad. he never ever talks of his brother. I don't think he remembers he had one. This might seem weird even for an AD sufferer but he spent much of his childhood living in hospital with tuberculosis, so if that's all he remembers then his brother wasn't part of that. So what would be the point of my mentioning it to him? I told him I had news that my aunt had died. Our relatives have become my relatives- his daughter my sister, his ex-wife my mother. She's dead too. He sometimes asks me where my parents are and I tell him they're dead. It upsets him less than trying to explain the reality. To be honest I'm thankful he doesn't remember that part of his life- it wasn't happy.
I don't know how I feel about my aunt dying. I told my sister, and left it to her to tell my brothers, but I think perhaps they knew her less well than I. There was an afternoon when I was a child when she was left caring for me with a stomach bug, while the rest of the family went to my grandfather's funeral. I remember that only too well. Yet I'm so bad at dealing with my feelings- I don't even know if I'm upset.
The way I choose to handle things might seem extreme to people outside. The CPN and social worker gently try to remind dad who I am when they (rarely) come. He's quite willing to agree on the surface, but doesn't believe it underneath. Stubborn as a mule. The minute they leave he forgets, or argues with me about it.
He's been driving the pair of us crazy lately (himself included) by constantly making noises- humming, tutting, singing. I try to ignore it because I know he can't help it, but sometimes it feels like torture! Also he's become obsessed with when he goes to the toilet- regulating it like something military. All a bit weird but if it makes him happy...
I gave myself a rare day out last week, going bowling with friends. Only the second time in a year I've left him alone in the evening. It was lovely and I managed not to worry too much. I left him notes on how to put himself to bed, not that he followed them. I noticed in the morning he hadn't fed the cats, but they survived::eek:.