Losing by degrees. That’s how it feels sometimes with my dad. Dementia is stealing him gradually from us, turning him from parent into child, pushing me into a role I don’t want,
Losing his ability to remember leads to other losses. He is losing the ability to make decisions, first complex, now simple. He has lost the ability to solve problems. He has lost his love of reading along with his ability to concentrate. Unable to shave accurately, take himself to the barbers, pick out his favourite tie to wear, he has lost his smartness. Needing help with the toilet, he has sometimes lost his dignity.
I have lost the dad I grew up with.
In his place sits a wartime teenager who ignored air raid warnings to watch dogfights in the sky and who stole ingredients from the school chemistry lab to build experimental explosives. Sometimes in his chair sits a child who lived through the horrors of malnutrition in the Depression, sent far away to children’s home to recover. Sometimes it’s a young man in his first job, telling of his girlfriend’s 21st (and not my mum).
I miss the man whose strong arms signalled security for me as I reach mine round him.