My father adored his family; over and over and over again, he remarked at how very blessed he was with his wonderful family. All through our lives, he created connections, each and every chance he could.
So, as I wandered through April's photos, searching for a photo-heart connection, this one simply grabbed at my heart, no questions, no hesitation. This one was it.
A great photo? No. Lighting, composition, etc. all need something. Dad looks positively disheveled, unkept in so many ways.
But, this precious hour and a half visit makes me smile, because for the first time in over a year, I saw and experienced the dad I knew - the dad with a twinkle in his eyes, the dad whose sole mission was to make you laugh. A lost connection was back.
You see, my dad has dementia, has had it for some time now. A stroke in March 2011 accelerated the dementia, and most visits, he has no idea who I might be; some days, he really doesn't even know I'm there. His words are incoherent, and he rarely makes any sort of sense.
On this Saturday, as we entered the room, his eyes lit up, he smiled, and called us each by name. Those few seconds alone made a 3 and a half hour drive worth it. We've all taken our parents for granted, never imagining that it would ever be our mom or dad felled by dementia, that it would be our mom or dad who wouldn't know us. After all, how could that ever be, when we were the light and center of their world for so long?
And, even when our brain tells us that this is happening, our hearts refuse to acknowledge it.
For whatever reason, dad was in fine form. He teased us, laughed, and cracked jokes until we were bent over double and wiping tears from our eyes. As the aides strolled by, he looked at them and announced that he could do nothing with us as we were all drunk.
For an hour and a half, there was magic. My dad knew me. I've missed that so much, I can't even begin to describe it.
I don't know if I'll be this blessed again; he may know me he next time, or he may never know me again. But this day? This day was a gift.