Sunday, April 3, 2011

M is for Memories

*I read over my last blog and decided to tackle just one topic. All of you said to go and just spend quality time with my dad. Focus on the good stuff, i.e reminiscing over the good times. I was set because I had a plan. I got thrown for a loop when I saw my dad for the first time. He looked really sick. Grey. Thin. Frail. However, I bulked up my internal reserves and pushed through. I don't think I have shared this, but I have my father stuck in my brain at 45 years old. I know that it is unreasonable, so it is always a shock when I see him and he doesn't look 45. Since I am in my early 40s, this is particularly unrealistic, but I can't help it. Each time I see him, I go running to the mirror, because he is OLD, and that means that I am OLD, and it makes me look for signs of aging anywhere and everywhere. Eyes, eyebrows, frown lines, hair. Yeah, I am a girl. This time I got sucker punched and couldn't make the trip to the bathroom. I had to sit down. Anyway, I made it out to see dad every day but one. *It quickly became frustrating for both of us. The thing is that I don't think my father suffers from senile dementia. I don't think that that his memory issues are a result of the cancer. I think that adrenal episode that he went through back in 1978 did a lot of damage. He didn't get migraines. His symptoms are different than mine. But the whole thing is otherwise the same. Except for this: he was in a chronically stressful situation at work that finally brought him to his knees. It took him about a year to get over it by living in a non-stressful environment and taking a boatload of vitamins. I lived in a stressful situation for three years (clearly I have a harder head and didn't really understand what I was doing to my body and my recovery time) and five years later my adrenal gland is still barely hanging on. *Fast forward for my dad: that one year plus the year or so of chronic stress has wiped about forty years of his memories. How do I know this? Because all of this reminiscing that I was looking forward to in order to get me through this enormous heartbreak was denied me. Instead it became an exercise in frustration and irritation. I would say something like, "Dad, do you remember the time I learned to drive the stick shift car and I kept stalling it out in the driveway? It was hilarious. Even the neighbors came outside to watch the show." And he would say, "No. I don't remember that." And I would say, "You were the only one brave enough to come outside and get in the car with me. That was until I shook up your insides sufficiently that you couldn't stand it anymore. Remember now?" He now gets agitated. "No. Don't remember that. I drop it. So, I would pick up another one. And it was always the same. No. Don't remember. No. Don't remember. Finally, I asked him what he remembered. It was precious little. Not enough to converse about. *However, he seemed to remember a lot about his childhood. Well, that was a good thing because I had a bunch of old photo albums from his apartment that needed labeling. Well, that got old REAL fast. It didn't take long at all. He always recognized his father and brother and my Uncle Jerry. After a while, I got good at recognizing them, too. I was more interested in his grandfather, grandmother, uncles, and aunts. He didn't do so well there. And after about a day he was tired of that. Unfortunately there were three boxes of pictures. So, what I hoped would lead to lots of stories of his childhood was just another annoying project. He was frustrated because there were people he felt like he should know. And then there were people that when I found his dad's obit that he didn't know at all (like an uncle), he was super annoyed. Mostly it was really hard to know that my father forgot just about all of my childhood and young adulthood. *That being said, he remember just about every episode of the Dukes of Hazard. So, we watched TV. And then it occurred to me that was what we did most of my childhood. All of the vacations that I tried to get him to remember, the activities I was involved in, etc. Well, they just didn't take up the same amount of time as the time spent in front of the TV. My dad loves me. With his whole heart. I know that. And I love him. With my whole heart. But he will never really know me. And I will never really know him. He spent his whole life keeping the world at bay and he succeeded. *There is a lesson here. And I don't think we have to look too hard to find it. *If you are a friend of mine, keep telling me about our shared memories. *I don't want to forget you or what we have. This blog is becoming more and more important by the day. I don't want to forget my life. Even if I have to read it like I am reading about someone else. I figure the only plus side is that all of those people that make you have to scrape out your brain because they end up doing something mean in the present, and you can't quite shake them because you have ties to them. Well, you might forget them entirely. There is always a silver lining. I have been listening to the ACM Awards on and off. I did catch Sara Evans and her new song. I kinda think that it might be off of the Country Strong soundtrack. Don't quote me on that. I am going to look for a video. That song was pretty awesome and hits the spot for Inspirational Music Sunday. Maybe by next weekend, I will have the MTV part rolling, too.


  1. My...I am so happy to read your words again.

  2. I know it's frustration for you as well as your dad. I have a hard time with that with my mom. No, she's not sick like your dad, but she's forgetting what I consider important things in my life. Things that happened long ago. Meh! Anyway, yes, it's frustrating for you but instead of focusing on the past so much, try to focus on the present, and create as many new memories as you can. Big hugs!!!

  3. Blogger is driving me crazy. I have done everything I can to put spacing into that blog and NOTHING works. I know that it is awful reading it like that. My apologies....

  4. It's good to "see" you around... of course, I've been AWOL as well... we all get old... and older, if we are lucky.

    The important thing is that YOU can remember those things, Ms Robin... When my Dad had his stroke, I knew he wasn't going to make it. I started journaling. My 'Dad's Death Journal' turned into my divorce journal just a few months later. I am so glad I wrote so much down about my Dad and family. I hope you are doing the same thing...




  5. That Sara Evans song makes me think of my sister. It is my go to song for thinking about her right now as there were lessons about her hidden within my trip with my nephew. Thank God they are a bit gentle, these lessons. That's what I need right now.
    It is so tough to realize that some things that we may have counted on are not exactly as they seem. I will hope for you that some level of peace comes to you about your Dad. I am so glad every time I see that you have posted something. It makes me know that you are O.K. in some fashion.

  6. I remember those same frustrations with my granddaddy YEARS, EONS ago. My brother came in with his navy uniform on and granddaddy called him by Grandmother's youngest brother's name. It crushed my brother. But there were some bright spots too- when he did remember something and told about it. Take what he can give you and treasure it--even if it's just a little.

  7. Stop beating yourself up, Robin. You don't deserve that. As some of us deteriorate physically, we become more infantile. Love him like a newborn and cherish the farewell time if you can. So hard, I know... My heart is with you.

  8. Thank you for coming by and your kind comments.

    I know it is extremely difficult for you right now but time spent even if a little is precious.
    Hugs to you!
    ~Naila Moon

  9. Oh, the shared memories are so precious! It's almost as though something didn't happen if we're the only ones who remember; sometimes it makes me wonder if I invented something, am remembering a dream, or what ... very disconcerting. And it's such an important way to reassert a bond when you can both participate in the memory. I'm so sorry you lost so much of that with your dad. But I love the picture -- you hanging on to him, so as not to lose him; and him clearly happy to be with you, to any degree ....

  10. As selfish as it sounds, I remember how hard it was when my mom started forgetting the the "big ones" - like my birthday. I just had to keep reminding myself that it was the disease and that didn't mean for one second that she didn't love me. Mind you, that's something that's much easier said than done in situations like this and it still stung like hell too.

    I know this has been a devastatingly hard road Rob, but being there with your dad truly is the best thing that you can do, not just for him... but for yourself. Even with the painful moments.

    I apologize for not stopping by sooner, but I've been a bit AWOL from the world myself lately. That aside, please know that I'm always here for you and that you and your dad are in my thoughts and my prayers every day.

    Love and Blessings,

  11. Robin: Have you tried Blog This? You can type your posts right in the screen, with spacing, and post it to Blogger.

    Be well, my friend.

  12. Hugs, Robin. Lots and lots of hugs.

  13. The thing is that I don't think my father suffers from senile dementia.

  14. That sucks that he can't remember...alot of times things in life just don't turn out the way we wish they would. I keep having this fantasty that some day my mom and I will sit down and have this big heart to heart...There is a movie I love called one true thing....and in it the mother is dying and she wants to tell her daughter "the deep things'...and the daughter says 'okay'...and says "what mom, what do you want to say"..
    and she says "I don't know'.
    I loved that...
    because even if we could ball up all the love we have for someone, and distill it into a still wouldn't cover it. Love that deep can only be expressed in the day to's too big to put into words. He knows you love him. I am glad you got to spend time with him. Hugs to you robin.

  15. Kudos to you for taking this journey.. And altho your Dad may not remember, you do, you will.. You will be the memory keeper.. A sad but inspirational post. Thank you.

    PS- Try holding the shift key down when you hit enter for your spacing issues. I had the same issue and it worked for me.

  16. I know what it is like to mess with the adrenal gland. I worked a stressful situation several years ago and the doc said I had no adrenaline left to fight or flight with. I am sorry your dad can't remember all those beautiful memories, but as long as he still remembers you, that is what counts! Glad you are back!


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