April 26, 2013

Reunion

I took SB to see my dad yesterday. It was the first time she has seen him in almost two months. I was not sure how it would go.

So much has happened since they were last together. However, she doesn't know the really bad parts and he doesn't remember. I'm still recovering from the experience, but that in no way should affect them.

It was time for a reunion. I knew she was ready. She has handled the situation so far with incredible maturity.

SB has been to the facility where my dad now lives. We took her by for a tour before he moved in. She saw his room and seemed comfortable with the environment and the residents.

I had seen my dad earlier in the week. He was in good spirits. Calm and pleasant. Was dying to see SB and so excited when I said I would be bringing her in a few days.

She was giddy about seeing him.

Every day is different for a dementia patient, as it is for all of us. But the highs and lows can be particularly dramatic. Even though he had been well when I saw him, I wasn't sure what to expect this time.

During the drive I tried to prepare her without scaring her. Then when we arrived she surprised me. As we parked the car she told me, "I'm going to give BaBop a hug but not a kiss. I don't want to get what he has."

"You can't catch what he has, sweetheart. Dementia isn't like a cold or the flu. BaBop doesn't have germs. He can't give you his sickness. If you want to give him a kiss, it will be OK. But if you don't want to, that's OK, too."

I had explained to SB in the beginning that dementia was a sickness in the brain. It didn't occur to me she might think he was contagious.

Once she saw him, however, she lost any fear of germs. He picked her up and they embraced. They melted into one another, and stood holding each other for several minutes. He showered her with kisses and raspberries, and she giggled with delight.

Then they moved to a chair where he held her in his lap, continuing to hug and kiss her. There wasn't much conversation. Words were not what was needed.

They were both so happy. I thought about taking pictures but didn't. I just wanted to savor the moment.

Shortly after we arrived there was a knock at my dad's door. A staff member was coming to escort him to the bus. He was going out for lunch with a group from the facility.

We hadn't known about the plans. But I think it was good the first visit was a brief one. It couldn't have gone any better.

They will see each other again soon.

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