November 17, 2004

I lost my dad today

Now before you start sending your condolences, I should tell you that we found him again. He was at the Salvation Army.

Let me back up. My dad has Picks disease. It's a bit like Alzheimers (they're both forms of dementia). In the beginning my dad just started to behave differently.

He was fixated on Ukraine. (His grandparents came over to the States from Ukraine.) Everything revolved around Ukraine in his mind. If he saw a homeless man, that reminded him of the homeless men in Ukraine. If he went into a post office, somehow that reminded him of Ukraine. He'd dance Ukrainian dances in the middle of large crowds. He speak Ukrainian (or, more often, a blend of Ukrainian and Russian, to people who had no clue what he was saying.

After getting him diagnosed, my parents moved to Colorado to be near my sis. Then we joined them so that we could help out as well. Physically, dad's pretty much fine. If you were to meet him, you'd think he was a healthy gent who had a few decades left in him. But once you start talking to him, it's suddenly quite clear that no one is home.

Dad has always had a good sense of direction. Even with the disease, he has been able to take my dog out for walks to the park and back without incident. Lately, the walks have been taking longer as he takes detours to search for coins in parking lots (his latest fixation). Sometimes a one hour walk stretches out to two or two and a half hours. But he has a good sense of direction. He always makes it back home.

Today I sent dad out at 9 to walk the dog. At 11 I noticed that he still wasn't back, but that wasn't incredibly worrisome. By 12 I thought that perhaps I should call his cell phone and call him home for lunch. Unfortunately, it turns out that my mom didn't get his cell phone attached to him before his ride came to get him. Dad was officially lost.

After driving around for an hour, Mom finally got a call from the Salvation Army. Apparently dad had shown up at their door saying that Mom was inside shopping and he was waiting for her. He waited a couple of hours before they finally figured out that he wasn't all there. They managed to procure a phone number from him and got ahold of my mom who then called me to the rescue.

When I picked him up, 5 hours after he had first left my house on his walk, the first thing he asked me was, "Meg, can I take your dog on a walk?" !!!


  1. arg.. my stomach just dropped when I read the opening line.. glad he is okay ;)

  2. you know, sometimes it can be so draining to be around him that i just have to make light of the situation some times.

    i had never caught the dreadful play on words until i told the director at my girls' preschool one time last year that we'd lost my dad. she seemed suddenly so sad and consoling and it took me a minute before i realized that she thought i was saying he was dead.

    nope, he's literally lost. or he was.

    thankfully he's never been lost for a huge amount of time. a few hours max.

  3. I can imagine the frustration.. and the humour you need to have. I lived with my grandfather for a few months before he went to the hospital.. it was not easy.

  4. Glad to hear he's OK (well, sort of).

    You seem to have given it a place somehow. Has your mom been able to do so?

  5. dad is completely oblivious to the fact that anything is wrong with him.

    mom, on the other hand, is generally pulling her hair out over him. she gets so upset with him sometimes that she punches him or whacks him. she knows that he can't help the way that he is right now, but she's never been strong in the area of patience and living with him is pushing her past her limits pretty regularly. sometimes i wonder what affect this is having on her health.

    it helps that i'm here with the kids. they provide a nice distraction for her. but if rob can't find work around here, we'll be moving back to San Francisco in the summer. not sure how she'll cope then. she'll have to make more use of the adult day care programs here.

  6. Hi Meg, I was reading all the messages, and I'd like to say that my heart is with you. And in the name of our God, Rob will find work there, don't worry!
    We will pray for this.
    Grace and peace,

  7. thanks for your confidence, pedro.

    the economy of colorado is pretty sad. the largest employer is wal-mart. and rob has been working in the start up environment for about the past 7 years so that's where he'd prefer to stay, but there just aren't many start ups in colorado. (you'd think there'd be more given the fact the colorado is beautiful, fairly cheap, and start-ups are virtual so they can really be located anywhere.)

    rob's thinking of starting a whole new career just so we can stay here. we'll see.

    we tried to get my parents to move to San Francisco when my dad was first diagnosed, but a 2 bedroom house down the street from us was selling for around $550,000!!! Needless to say, it was a bit out of their range.

  8. Wow, Meg, I admire you and your family's courage. Your faith must be a very valuable thing to you at such a time. My grandmother (maternal) has had advancing dementia for several years, and at times I'm overwhelmed by sadness -- especially when she doesn't recognize me or my sister. It's just so bizarre to see people lose parts of themselves, like sections of personality breaking off and falling into an abyss. It makes me appreciate the awesome complexity and mystery that the human mind still represents.

    It's strange to read that Colorado is economically depressed. Of course, my impressions of Colorado come via "Mork and Mindy" and John Denver...

  9. mork and mindy! that was, what, maybe twenty years ago? :-)

    the main problem with colorado is that people think it's a great place to live. so they move out here and then start looking for work. that's fine when one or two people do it, but there are hundreds (if not thousands) who do that. we've met several here in fort collins. we even met a phd who just wanted to live here and was working at a restaurant or something.

    with my dad, i don't tend to get sad unless something happens that i know he would have appreciated. (the kids playing or learning to read. there was an article on stalin once that would have interested him. things like that.) then i tend to get teary eyed and i miss him. or if my mom is particularly rude to him i'll get sad because i know that she doesn't mean to be that way and he was be so hurt if he had any inkling (which he doesn't) of how she was treating him.

  10. I'm glad that your dad is physically OK... I was alarmed when I logged in. I'm impressed that you moved back to help your family... I'm not sure what I would do in the same situation. I guess there are things that one decides when they are thrust upon them.

  11. Try (or .com?). I forget which. Anyhow, click on the link for your area. Lots of jobs there. Hope that helps any.

  12. he's been checking craigslist and monster dot come mostly, but he's also checked in with a denver area recruiter and passed the word among a few people in the mini-start up movement in fort collins.

    the craigslist entries for his level of finance generally include about 4-5 entries total for the past several months compared to at least a couple of pages worth of listings in the bay area. :-(

  13. Ah, Im sorry. Wish I had better ideas. If I was more familiar with the area then Id know more but thats all that I could think of. You could check university listings for his careeer cluster for jobs for graduates? Sometimes they have links for certain cluster areas that eventually go to other jobs in that cluster. Dunno otherwise lol.

  14. Wait, Ft. Collins? But it shows your location as San Francisco, CA...
    *gets very confoozled*

  15. yeah, i think i entered my SF address when i joined. i do that every so often, just like i usually enter my birthday as jan. 1 (though it's in december).

    my husband works in SF and we own a house in SF and we had planned to move back there when we were done helping my mom out here with my dad. but now rob is starting to like fort collins better. (here he can take a bike ride without stopping every block for a stop sign or red light or crazy driver trying to cut him off. and there's no drunk mexicans two doors over singing at 1 am and there's no cars honking their horn in front of our house at all hours of the night and there's no trash blowing down the sidewalk.... of course, there are definite disatvantages to being in fort collins also. you can count the number of non-white people on your fingers. its fairly rare to hear someone speaking a language other than english. the restaurants are pathetic in comparison to what's in SF....)


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