Mom’s last six years of life on this earth were painful for her, emotionally, physically and mentally. My father was in complete denial. He was certain that she would get better, that suddenly medications would work, or if we just pray more and lived better lives, things would change. I remember when Mom’s doctor came to the house to explain that dementia would become Mom’s constant companion.
He said, “ She will ask the same questions over and over, and she will believe it is the first time. She has never asked the question before. Imagine the emotional pain you can cause when you say things like “You just asked me that” or “Don’t you remember?” It resonated with me, but Dad just couldn’t help it. He had to let her know. The most evident issue of this part of dementia is the topic of the longest ride of my life.
We were on our way to my Aunt’s funeral. She was very close to her sister. She asked where we were going and Dad was determined to make her understand. Every time she asked where we were going he would tell her about the funeral. I was the first time she had learned that her sister passed away, again and again and again. She would ask how she died and experience that grief and trauma. Ten minutes later she would experience it all over again.
When we stopped at the rest area, I took Dad out of earshot. “Please just tell her we are going to Idaho. It is killing me to see her suffer like this.”
“I can not lie to my sweetheart.” he replied.
I yelled. “We are going to Idaho.”
We were at odds and it was the most painful and longest ride of my life.