Thursday, January 22, 2015
Nightmares and dreams.
My Papa is dying. His room is down the hall, and I can hear the aria to some light opera, as soundtrack. I'm working at marketing book 2, while Susan, a loving caregiver, holds his hands during the intermittent torments. It will be my job to squeeze his frail hands later, as I held them earlier, letting him cling to this world even as the other stakes its claim. Death waits in our house. He's a nice chap, quick witted, polite, but his scythe is in everyones' way.
I am a mass of confusion, awhirl with self doubt, plagued with my own demons, and a life to continue. Tick, life ebbs away in tiny increments, the light creeping ever closer, no matter how hard he tries to retreat from it into shadow. Tock, his fear is palpable. What secrets does he carry? Or is it but the vast unknown that furrows his brows into channels of worry? Is it the Lewy Body dementia which invaded his brain like an alien, spreading its web of lies and misrepresentations, making its world more real to him than the one in which he dwells.
He turned 95 yesterday. 96 according to social security, but I'd like to think he knows best. Happy birthday, Papa.
I've contracted whatever bronchial crud he has, symbiotically I suppose. So now I croak to him, instead of singing, to keep the demons at bay, to soothe his savage beast. Porgy and Bess, show tunes, slaves songs, children's rhymes, Amazing Grace, anything to distract him from the nightmares he snarls, growls, and punches out at, while I see naught but air.
I wonder if it was inevitable, this way to end his life. Was it destiny? Were there other paths he might have walked? A shorter life without the insanity which has plagued him as hallucinations for at least a decade. Did they come on gradually? Did he notice at first, or did he think what he saw was just part of the landscape? I have a rich fantasy life, but it pales in comparison to the multilayered world in which my father has survived these last ten years. A world which real life thieves exploited. On how many others do they feed?
He hid his growing dementia well. Anger the tool to keep the suspecting at a non-questioning distance, until the other body parts began to fail and full disclosure was inevitable. The delusions had already plagued him for years. He told no one. Not doctors, friends, or family, but he took phone calls from con artists bullying him into sending them money orders, weekly, twice weekly, then daily.
After Papa goes I'm the last of the five who made up our nuclear family. Mama, Tian, and Ria have already crossed over. Mama in 2000, Tian in 2001, and Ria in 2003. I miss them. I wish I had someone with whom to make these decisions. I'm doing the best I can. I hope it's good enough.
No regrets. That's the goal. Say it all. Hope his passage is an easy one, and if it's not, hold onto him tightly and let him know he's loved. I can't wait till it's over, and I don't want it to end. How can the two exist together? something to process later.
Hospice is a miracle. He came here to die with us, his exit strategy. Now he's surrounded by people who care, music he likes, his favorite foods on his tongue, and the comfort drugs are plentiful. He suffers only in his mind.
Requiescat in pace, Papa.