Please stay their Dad

 

Jim trimming the hedge. Oct 2013

Jim trimming the hedge. Oct 2013

 

“Mom, we don’t have any internet.”

“Ok, let me see if I can figure it out.”

I spend the better part of an hour trying to re-configure our wireless service, at the same time I am trying to fix dinner. I click all the right icons on the computer. I turn on and off the router. I call Verizon and stay on hold for much too long.

“Ma’am. You have no power going to your box. Is your home without power?”

“No.”

“You may want to check to see if the power cord is plugged in to your Verizon box outside.”

My usual response would have been, “Of course it is. No one has unplugged it. Something is wrong with YOU.”

But, I knew Jim had been fiddling outside today now that it had stopped raining and he had been working on trimming the hedge (which required power). My gut sank just a smidge.

I got off the phone, went outside, and sure enough, the power cord to our cable/internet box was dangling in midair.

I cannot focus on the time wasted. Or the fact that Jim would do something like unplug the cord, not remember unplugging the cord or not realize that he had once all of the chatter started in the house about having no internet or cable.

The hollowness I feel inside is becoming commonplace. It stays with me much too long. Although we have these episodes almost daily, it is nearly impossible for me to accept the upheaval that comes with each one. The time lost. The items broken and needing to be replaced. The mess left untouched. The items put in the wrong place.

The school notice that gets signed but there is no discussion or ramifications.

My heart is really breaking. Not only did we have the internet/cable episode, but after Brad went to bed I looked at his agenda to sign like we responsible parents are required to do daily.  Hmmm. He has a test tomorrow. I wonder if he brought home his social studies notebook to study. I wonder if he did study. I had asked him if he did his homework, but I hadn’t really pushed the issue.  Why didn’t I look at this before? Oh yeah, I was working, taking Frances to violin, fixing dinner and trying to fix the internet service.

As I search through his backpack for his social studies notebook, I see a slip of paper. I pull it out and see it is a notice that he had been disruptive in class. There at the bottom of the page is Jim’s signature.

“Jim, did you sign this?”

“No.”

“Is this is your signature at the bottom of the sheet?”

Jim grabs the paper, does a little hmphfffing sound, hands it back to me and says ,”Yes. I did sign it.”

“Did you talk to Brad? Do you know what this sheet is? ”Deep down, I already knew the answer.

“No.”

So, although Jim is capable of driving, trimming our hedge and doing dishes, I am asking Brad to make sure I am the one signing such paperwork from now on from school. I can’t count on Jim to play the Father card and discipline Brad and make sure that I know what is going on at school. Last year we missed several things because I had no clue. Another guilt trip….

I feel horrible. I don’t want to override him as a Dad. Jim  is a GREAT Dad. He loves his children immensely. He has patience like no one else I have ever seen. He is someone to emulate. But, I learned last year the hard way when I found out no one was helping Brad with his homework or going over schoolwork with him. I know some things are inevitable, but it doesn’t make it hurt less to go through them.

Jim just misses the boat slightly. It just can’t click with him that he is the DAD and it is his responsibility to stop the tantrums, stop the talking back and yelling, stop the arguing, focus on manners and chores and follow up with questions if the agenda says there is a test tomorrow.

I think Jim is so focused on himself, he can’t focus on someone else. And I say that with no disrespect to him. He must focus so hard on each thing he is doing, each thought he is trying to convey and hold together, it is just too much for him to take on the added burden of overseeing the children on a day in and day out basis.

I have said it before and I will say it again. Jim has always been a better parent than I. His patience, his knowledge, his ability to relate and to work hard are great examples and make him a great Dad. I am sadden beyond these words can express that our children won’t get the benefit of his great parenting skills as they traverse through adolescence and into adulthood.

Jim and Brad building a tower of power Oct 2013

Jim and Brad building a tower of power Oct 2013

 

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (5)

5 Responses to “Please stay their Dad”

  1. Chris says:

    Karen-I have learned to accept what my husband CAN do with our son. Like yours, I can’t rely on him to be a responsible parent. So, he is the Dad. They may play a game together, watch TV together. I have accepted him for who he is at this point. I celebrate each day my son has with him.

    And like you, I have those “loss of internet” days. It’s always something. And yes, it’s a bit like having another kid in the house. Would I like the responsible parent back, probably, but I’m just happy to know that my son has time with his dad. Because time is the precious part.
    Hang in there. Try not to think too far down the road-we all know where it ends and celebrate every day that he can contribute something to the family unit-regardless of how small.

  2. Wendy says:

    Reminds me of the day two weeks ago when I tried to start our car and found that the keys were in it (all night) with the battery on). Not only was the car dead, but Dan didn’t understand the possibility of someone stealing the car. Frustrations come every day. I have to learn to count to 10 again like I used to when our girls were small.

  3. Allan says:

    Do you really think it is safe for Jim to drive? It’s hard. I went through the decision process with my wife and it’s certainly a life-changing decision. But so would be the potential accident that could happen because he is working so hard keeping the car on the road at the correct speed and he misses the stop sign, the car pulling out of the driveway, the child running into to road chasing a ball. It’s easy to say “pro-active” and difficult to have to look ahead. It’s an acknowledgement that “the disease” has the upper hand. You know it does but how very hard it is to really accept that. I know. You want so much to hold on to what you have that you hold on with all your might and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in many ways. But when it comes to safety, you HAVE TO listen to that small voice deep inside you – for you, for your children, for Jim. If you think that maybe Jim shouldn’t be doing something, it’s likely he should have stopped doing it already. It isn’t easy – just one of the ways that, in my wife’s words a few years ago: “Alzheimer’s SUCKS!!!”

  4. Ann says:

    Sending you huge hugs…

  5. Marsha says:

    I’m sorry but I have to agree with Allan. It really is not safe for him to drive. My husband fought with me to give it up and it was so hard. Then he ran a red light and totaled his truck and the car coming the other way. He swore the light was green & thank God no one was killed or hurt badly!! Alzheimer
    patients can appear to drive well – but here is what no longer goes thru their mind – you see a light ahead & it has been green for some time & although you don’t realize you are thinking it – somewhere your brain tells you it will soon become red & you plan for that. Just little tiny things that you have been doing automatically for years – that an Alzheimer’s patient no longer is on “automatic pilot”. For your own sake & your children’s this is so important. Little by little you are losing the man you knew, you NEVER want to lose a child. I know – I have lost one! Have the doctor or friends tell him. My husband screamed at me “you told the doctor to say that”. I pulled over to the curb and said “I have been with you for the better part of my life, I have taken care of you for diabetes, asthma, and now Alzheimer’s – if you want me to stop, then keep on driving & I will be out of your life”..he stopped driving. I had a friend who kept disconnecting the starter but her Mom would call for repairs, finally she just moved the car to her house. My husband kept the car key for years but knew if he ever moved the car I would call the police, say where we lived & give him the plate number. Finally I gave him a key that did not belong to the car and he didn’t know the difference. This is HARD – but think of you and your children, not to mention Jim.

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