I knew walking into the theatre, that I was setting myself up for an abundance of emotion and tears. And I wasn’t wrong. But it turns out, they weren’t mine. Well, not till the last five minutes, and then I felt myself crack.
To my left was a young couple, who found the content too much, and left part way through the movie, utterly sobbing. With all of the best intentions, I wanted to go to that young lady and tell her it was ok, that she wasn’t alone. I wanted to give her a hug and tell her I completely understand; but I actually don’t.
You see, for each of us who are the child of a Dementia sufferer, there are coping mechanisms we have formed; there are emotions we won’t show; there are areas where our experiential expertise don’t cover. And therefore, whilst we should have empathy and compassion for all concerned, we shouldn’t go butting our imposter noses into other’s suffering. We need to be invited into the suffering, then offer ourselves to the one hurting.
The movie, ‘The Father’ is a brilliant portrayal of a Dementia sufferer, through his own eyes. I clicked onto that notion with a couple of scenes at the beginning of the movie. As the storyline unfolded, evidence of my own Dad, came raring to the forefront, and I was left feeling somewhat vindicated.
The non stop comparisons. The nit picking. The angry outbursts of swearing and cursing. The silent treatment. The endless demands. The accusations of being up to no good. These are all things that my Dad heaped on me, time and time again. Fortunately I have a wonderful husband, great brothers and a mother with the patience of a Saint – although since long divorced from my Dad – still a loving friend and a great listening ear for me.
If any of you are either curious, or have a loved one battling Dementia or Alzheimer’s, then I thoroughly encourage you to go and see this movie. It helps tremendously. It gives such a compelling insight into the mind of a former intellect, who now is at the mercy of this dreaded affliction. Anthony Hopkins gives a stellar performance, bringing all the pain, emotion and frustration right towards you.
I walked into Dad’s Dementia unit the other day, and there he was, sitting having a cup of tea and biscuits. His hair sticking up like a scarecrow, runny nose and scruffy jumper aside, the smile that greets you, is immense. He’s like a kid in a candy store, and he knows he’s about to have a lot of candy! Always the question, ‘are we going out now for something to eat then a drive up north?’ Always, a kiss and hug and the words, ‘you’re the best thing in the world.’ Of course I am; I’m the Sugar Fairy and Taxi operator! 🙂
Coming back from our afternoon excursion, I was shocked to see a formerly vibrant and active resident, now needing a carer on both sides, to assist her walking. Colleen, was a gummy bear, who refused to wear her teeth; could swear like a trooper; and propositioned my husband on our first day there, asking him to meet her in the laundry afterwards! She loved dancing, and could flirt up a storm; if only in her own mind. It was nothing for her to stroke my arm and do a little jig with me, then start weeping. On the flipside, she could spot me across the room and start marching towards yelling expletives, and promising to ‘get me!’
My heart is saddened, for I know the day will come when my Dad will need that kind of help too.
In the meantime, when he sits in the café with us, his latest fixation is on the ‘fire exit’ sign, alongside the ‘toilets’ sign. His most recent revelation? Toilets are where you go poos and wees!!
In the meantime, be blessed and take care.