He Didn’t Blink An Eye About It – A Personal Story

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Have you ever said to yourself, “If I only knew then what I know now”. I’m about six years old when this picture was taken. I look happy. I hadn’t seen it in over twenty years, and recently my aunt sent it to me. I look so cute, and innocent if I do say so myself. I didn’t enjoy my childhood that much. Parts of it I enjoyed, but not most of it. I wanted to grow up fast and I did.

I usually write about fashion. This though; is important to me.

Like a lot of kids I was a child of divorced parents. More than once I might add. Out of it though; I got a second dad. A man I’ve known since I was three. Though, years later he and my mother would divorce while I was a teen, he remained family to me, and I to him. He doesn’t have much family now, two estranged brothers who care little about themselves and not much about him. There is me though; my husband of fifteen years, and our two children. My kids call him grandpa. My husband calls him dad too. We have been very close and I can tell him anything.

I’ve always enjoyed our talks. It didn’t matter if it was about politics, the latest news, my marriage, or my kids. We could have debates, or just talk about the weather. He took care of me from age twelve to age eighteen, when my mother moved to Canada after their split and I wanted to stay. He didn’t blink an eye about it.

“You’re my daughter, of course you can stay. I love you.” He said automatically.

We grew even closer, and a few years later both he and my wonderful biological dad would walk me down the aisle at my wedding.

Years have passed; my biological dad is younger than my step dad and in his 50’s. My step dad is now 69 years old and has always been in good health. My mom is also in her 50’s and has not been in good health. Earlier this year I found out my mom has a slow killing cancer with no cure. She and I haven’t been that close the last 25 years, but communication is better now. My step dad felt bad for her and has been fortunate he’s had little health problems.

A couple years ago, he started being a little forgetful.

“That happens with age.” He told me one day.

Then, a couple months ago, things changed dramatically. He got really sick. He started spiking fevers. One got so high that it went unnoticed till his roommate finally realized something was wrong, and my step dad was a little delusional. He’s on social security and rents a room from a family friend. He likes his independence. He then, started dropping weight, not being motivated in things he normally enjoyed, and becoming more forgetful. His doctor, whom he rarely sees due to Medicare, thought he was depressed a month before the fevers and prescribed sleeping pills since he complained about lack of sleep. It wasn’t till after the fevers, I noticed even more change. He’d forget during mid conversation what he was saying, he’d repeat himself, and he started forgetting where he left things, including his wallet recently. He wasn’t taking care of himself like he use to. His personality wasn’t the same either. I was worried.

Some tests, more doctors appointments that I now take him to, and an upcoming CT, and we will soon have a diagnosis. (I don’t like Medicare by the way even though I like his doctor.) Preliminary results point to Alzheimer’s but it could be a combination of that and something else. At 69 years old, my step dad can no longer care for himself fully. At 35 years old I am moving my dad in to care for him.

Maria Shriver has been on television this month on The View, GMA, and World News Tonight about dealing with her father’s Alzheimer’s. I watched her on every single one of those shows. I’ve researched at www.alzheimers.org. It has a lot of information. However; it told me one thing I wish wasn’t true. There is no government assistance for caregivers for the most part. Like many people my family has been strained economically. I still have a tween and a teen in the home. We only have a three bedroom. Thank goodness I can find support groups near me. I’ve been told that it is a lot to handle. I’ve been completely overwhelmed, and pray like I do every night, but a little more so now.

I love my step dad and want us to enjoy whatever quality of life he has left. Recently, before going to another appointment, we went to lunch. As he sat across eating his guacamole, bacon burger I explained to him as delicately as I could that he should come live with us. He first asked about space. I explained it would be a squeeze for only a short time and we will try to save up to rent a four bedroom place this next summer. He put his burger down. He looked at me, and his eyes glossed over. I’ve rarely seen him cry, but this time he began to. He knew his independence was slipping away. It must be such a devastation I can’t even begin to understand.

My step dad then asked, “Are you sure it’s ok I stay with you. I don’t want to be a burden?” I didn’t even blink an eye about it.

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