Dad.

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Dad.

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day-planner-828611_640After ten installments of my "Confessions" blog series, I've decided to drop the title and talk about the person who is at the center of all this for a change: Dad. For months I've been going on about how his event has effected me, my life, my dreams and aspirations, but I haven't really shared much about what's going on with him.

On July 19, my father came in from doing yard work not feeling like himself. He's always been a strong, sturdy, self-sufficient man. He'd just started getting help mowing the lawn, but still got out there, whacking weeds his pastor's riding mower couldn't reach. This day, just four days after his 81st birthday, my dad had his first major health event and was admitted to neurosurgical ICU with a bleeding stroke.

After a week in the hospital, 20 days at inpatient rehab, and about two weeks of home therapy, Dad has settled into his ongoing, outpatient rehab. He's walking with a walker, using his left side, speaking just fine, feeding himself and going to the bathroom on his own. His preexisting, but mild, dementia was increased by the stroke, and that has been the biggest hurdle.

He's got a lot of strength, dexterity, and mobility, but he has a vision cut and tends to ignore the left side of his body and his environment. He needs a lot of verbal cues, but he can still complete most tasks. He can no longer remember things like the date, but always recalls the year. He sometimes forgets we are his children, but he never forgets our names. When he wakes in the middle of the night, he might think he's back in the rehab facility — probably because we have him sleeping in a hospital bed on the first floor.

Early on, Dad had some moments of anger/frustration, but they've subsided. One morning last week, however, he woke up in a bad mood, fussing at my brother. When I passed his bed the conversation got transferred to me. "I don't want any part of this," he said. I asked what he was talking about. "Whatever you all have planned," he replied. "I don't feel good," he finally admitted. "I just want to lay down."

Later that night I overheard a whispered conversation he was having with my mother. He was asking about why his three grown children were around so much. He asked my mother if he was becoming a burden. It became clear he was feeling bad that his condition was causing a shift in our lives.

My mother assured him that we were okay with caring for him and that he was not a burden. When I came out in plain sight he gave me a hug, told me he loved me, and thanked me for helping him out in his time of need — something he now does with most every deed. "You're a good man," he says to me. He's always used that phrase with us, but now it seems to have taken on a new meaning for him.

This week was a pretty good week. It seems we've established a schedule and it's going well. Dad seems, for the most part, happy. Seeing him content makes being here that much easier.

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Denise

I just love the hug you shared with your dad and his touching words. So odd how the torch passes and that it can happen during a time so full of stress and worry. I guess it's all about how we step up. And, you, my friend, have stepped up in ways that I truly admire. (I'm going to get to your post about your brother, who steps out, next.)

KathyS

This brought tears to my eyes. I LOVE how you recognized how words spoken in the past have taken on new meaning in the present for your dad. And I LOVE that he seems happy. Thanks for sharing this with us Mike.

Desiree

Thank you for sharing this. God bless you and your family, Mike.\r\n\r\nI'd have given much, to hear such words from my Mom.

jan

Thank you for continuing to bring us with you. I hope you can gain much contentment and peace from seeing your dad happy and knowing how far, wide and deep your relationship is at this moment in your lives.