So I was able to go up to the ATL area this weekend. I went for a couple of reasons but mainly to attend my cousin’s graduation from Shorter University up in Rome, GA and to spend some time with my grandpa (“Papa”) because he has Dementia and he hasn’t been doing so well the past couple of months. I want to spend time with him while I can. It’s bad enough that he confuses me for my sister, but at least he kind of knows who I am. I want him to know how much I cherish him, he has been more like a father to me than by biological father could ever hope to be. I often wonder if I waited until it was too late to show him and tell him how much I love him and how much he means to me. He taught me how to drive and he came to save me when I got lost on the I-85/I-75 connector coming home from Georgia Southern for the first time. He’s the one I turn to when I have a question about God or how to be Catholic (I admit I’m not a very good one, but I’m a work in progress). I remember being awed by his infinite knowledge when I was growing up. He always knew everything about anything. He has two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s “one and a half Ph.D’s” and two “law degrees,” he was a professor (at Georgia State University I think) once upon a time, and now…now he can hardly utter an intelligible sentence; let alone carry on a conversation. It breaks my heart to see him this way. He’s a feeble representation of the superman of my childhood. I am so angry, but at whom I’m not entirely sure. They say everything happens for a reason, I myself look to that explanation whenever something appears shitty to me from every conceivable angle. He was a devout Catholic his entire life, goes to church every week. Why would God punish him and the rest of my family this way? What can anyone possibly learn from this? I know, I know; it’s not my place to know the answers to questions such as these, but it just seems so cruel. Hasn’t my Papa and the rest of the family suffered enough from the loss of my Aunt Angie back in July of 2004?
The other day, Papa told me that he is both my father and my brother. He has this look on his face that seems to be begging me for answers, answers that I don’t have. His eyes are vacant. He has been saying that his birthday is in a week for close to two months now. I don’t know if it would be worse for him to live or die, and I feel terrible for not automatically saying “of course I want him to live.” Not for my own sake, or his wife’s sake, but for his own sake. I just want him to feel better, what I really want is for him to get better, but that doesn’t appear to be an option. The really fucked up thing is that he started acting this way after having a simple cataract surgery on his eyes. But that doesn’t really matter now, what’s done is done. I want my Papa back.
Is it worse to correct him when he says something outlandish (like claiming to be my father and my brother), or to go along with whatever he says? He says that no one ever listens to him, and that people think he’s faking it. My grandma can only take so much. The last 10 years or so have been hell for her. I hope she doesn’t put him into “a home.” He’s already perpetually confused. Changing his surroundings and surrounding him with strangers couldn’t be good for him. But as it is now, he spends most of his time at home all alone. What can I do? I’m trying to get through college. I have accepted the fact that he won’t be able to see me graduate. Even if he is still alive in December, he can’t sit in a car for four hours, and he is not mobile enough to make it through the ceremony.
Whenever I let myself really ponder the situation, my only reaction is “WHAT THE FUCK?!?” How did my family get like this? Why? How much longer must this suffering continue?