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How I Lost My Parents In 24 Months, Part 3

On a cool September afternoon, I bit the bullet, and started the 3 + hour drive to PA. I do NOT like to drive, and it was a white knuckled trip. I arrived about 8pm to find my mother worried, frightened and hungry; she hadn't been eating much during this ordeal. I made her some scrambled eggs. That sticks in my mind for some reason. So many other things about that time are blurry, but I remember those eggs. The next morning we began our daily 45 minute trek to Moses-Taylor hospital in Scranton.

The first time I saw my father I was shocked, almost didn't recognize him. He was gaunt, unshaven, his usual crew cut had grown out to be a mess, he was hunched over and in a drug induced haze. My father was normally quiet, but this was different. He didn't speak at all, and barely acknowledged our presence. Who was this man? Someone had stolen my real father and replaced him with this shell of a man. I hurt. My mother hurt. Oh, my father's diagnosis: dementia of an unspecified …

How I Lost My Parents In 24 Months, Part 2.

The summer of 2008 marched on, as summers always do, and  always will, even long after I'm gone. This one of the last summers my parents would see. Through my phone conversations, I learned my father's odd behavior continued to worsen. In hindsight (I know, its so cliched, but hindsight is 20/20) I should have realized there were thunderclouds on the horizon. His memory began to fail, he continued to withdraw, and would only sit in his chair, with no TV, no music, nothing. I listened to my mother narrate his decline, but I didn't hear what she was saying. And so would begin one of the many regrets I carry from their last two years. I should have known something was terribly wrong. But this story isn't about me, its about my parents. Though, maybe I'm writing so that anyone else who loses a parent, or spouse, or friend to dementia may understand they are not alone.

But for my father I think that he, despite being surrounded by the people who love him, felt so very a…

How I lost my parents in 24 months, Part 1

Before I start this story, I want to say that I have an "invisible" illness that makes it very, very difficult to do things outside of my ritualistic routines. I say this not to show "look at me, despite my troubles I am great!!!". But rather I think it's important to know how difficult and literally painful it was for me to do all that I had to for my parents. Not only was I hurting from losing them, my invisible illness was causing me great distress for helping them. Enough about me. This is the tale of my parents demise.

It was May, 2008. This was the first time, in hindsight, that I saw the beginning of the end for both of my folks. My parents came down from Pennsylvania for my son's college graduation. My parents had sold their life-long home a few years earlier, and had moved to their beloved Pennsylvania countryside. For the first time in my Mother's life, she had her brand new home. They bought the land, which had a foundation already in place, …

Our closing night at the Laughing Kookaburra

It was hot like it was raining. Except the rain were droplets of sweat rolling down the back of our necks. That’s how hot and humid it was. We were down in Florida while I had a seminar on the exciting topic of securing ATM PIN numbers. We had stayed at the hotel where the seminar was being given, but apparently there was a convention of Novardis employees going on. They had coffee service for seminars attendees outside our room at 7 AM. So we quickly changed hotels to the Wyndham which was essentially across the street from the hotel hosting the seminar.
We had stayed here before, as a matter of fact for the same seminar I was attending now. It was required every two years, so we found ourselves back in Florida, in July. Nightlife was everywhere. We were just a short walk to downtown Disney, where we could walk over the bridge to Paradise Island. We had to pay a fee to get in, but once inside, we had the place to ourselves. Of course, we had to pay for food and drink, but both were ap…

How I learned karate from a raisin.

Lately I’ve been thinking about where my life has been, and about where it’s headed. I find myself thinking about the past, about mistakes I’ve made, regrets I’ve had. People long gone, only to be remembered, and at that, vaguely, like a faded snapshot from an old Kodak. I’ve started to wonder why it is, that I dwell so much on the past, and I never really live in the moment. That’s odd, don’t you think? I can’t wait for tomorrow, but when it gets here, all I think about is yesterday, and then I start anticipating tomorrow again. But wasn’t today, tomorrow, just yesterday? Ouch, that one made my head hurt. It’s true though. Right now, this is where I am. Here.

As much as I had some fun at the good Dr. Grad Student’s expense, there was a lesson to be learned there. I think I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Everything we do, everything we touch, everything that touches us, changes us. Changes our course, the fundamental direction of our lives. Like the mons…

The blue jay in my backyard.

I found him lying on the ground in my back yard one summer afternoon. I was about 5, maybe 6. There, under an oak tree, was this little baby blue jay. I knew enough about birds to know that their parents push them out of the nest when they think its time for the babies to fly. I think I learned that in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but no matter, I knew it was true. If the baby bird flew, all was well. If not, well, you get the little fella that was on the ground in front of me. I’d seen this sort of thing before, a dead animal from time to time in my back yard or maybe in the woods behind my parent’s house where we used to play. Sometimes it was a small frog that my dad had accidentally hit with the lawn mower. A few times we’d found birds, usually sick or already dead. One time, we could tell that the bird had been killed by a tick that had swollen up with the bird’s blood. I guess that’s what killed the bird. Even now, after all these years, when I think back, I’m pretty sure …

Raisins, a blow-hole, and how I learned not to drive angry.

Thursday, September 07, 2006Raisins, a blow-hole, and how I learned not to drive angry.Dr. Grad Student, if you are reading this, please understand that not only am I taking the study seriously, I am enjoying it, and look forward to learning from the techniques you are teaching me. The following story, however is too good not to re-tell.

A month or so ago, I got an email that a grad student was conducting a psychological project/study on "angry driving". Now, I'm not normally an angry person, or at least I don't think I am. However, as a 25 plus year Long Island commuter, who travels about 80 miles a day round trip on some of the most harrowing, grueling collection of roads in America, I do tend to get angry from time to time. You can read that to say, all the time. I clicked on the link in the email, and took a 10 or 15 question survey, submitted it, and forgot about it.

Until I got an email, that I almost deleted as spam, from the grad student, inviting me to parti…