I was driving home from the gym, my thoughts on other things. Mostly, I was worrying over my last conversation with my father. He had forgotten to secure a ride for his upcoming doctor appointment. He had also forgotten to mail me a letter I had asked for half a dozen times, and he had lost his debit card. Again.
None of this was too out of the ordinary. Worrisome, yes, but it had been going on a long time. Compared with other moments like, forgetting whether he took his medications, that he was smoking before he fell asleep, or to turn off the stove, I couldn’t complain.
Still, it left me, as always, unsettled; wondering if he really shouldn’t be in some type of care facility. I knew he wasn’t capable of living alone, even with the home health aide coming in daily. He knew it as well, but that didn’t stop him from fighting on threat of his life to remain independent.
It was a lose, lose battle for both us, and one so exhausting and old that my brain moved on, remembering that I needed to pick up the dry cleaning and calculating whether I had enough time for the supermarket before school let out. Suddenly, I looked around and realized I didn’t recognize where I was.
I had driven this seven minute route to and from the gym, hundreds of times. How could I possibly not know where I was? I certainly wasn’t far, ten blocks at most. Yet, it all looked unfamiliar. Did I not take the right turn? There were only three or four turns to take. Where was I?
I panicked, gazing around at the lovely overhanging trees, trying to place my surroundings, and drawing a complete blank.
On instinct, I made a U-turn and headed back in the direction I came. Before I even reached the first intersecting block, I knew exactly where I was. On the right road. Of course.
I turned the car back around again, and almost laughed out loud at my senior moment. I was so distracted, I had lost my bearings on a block I had traveled hundreds of times.
I made the next left and headed the next few blocks till I made another right, traveled five more blocks and pulled in my driveway. Home.
I put the car in park and felt ridiculously relieved and slightly shaken. It was frightening not being able to trust your instincts. It immediately brought me back to my father.
Every day, he loses his train of thought, his focus, his time. Every day we argue about things beyond our control. Because it’s one thing to lose your way, but another to lose yourself.
I’m having more moments like that every day. Sorry you are dealing with the worry about your dad. I am going through something similar with my ailing mom. I’ve seen her struggle to remember how to pay the clerk at the grocery store. She lives alone too, but I live next door. Still, I constantly worry about her forgetting to turn off the stove or blow out a candle.
it’s scary. just the glimpse of it, kind of freaked me out. it’s nice that you’re right next door. that definitely helps. good luck to both of us.
I have these moments. They scare me so bad. I feel for both you and your dad. It’s a tough situation.
in most cases it is a frightening feeling to feel so confused. but so hard to be understanding when there is so many other things to deal with. take a deep breath and do the best you can.
Believe me you are doing one super job.
I went through this with my grandmother a long time ago. It’s a tough battle convincing them that they can no longer live alone. Nobody wants to accept that they can no longer do the things they once did with ease.
no kidding. not an easy road.
That is scary, ICM! I find myself more and more pausing to try to recollect what it is that I was just intending to do. I’ll open a new tab on the computer because I meant to visit a site but will have completely forgotten what I was going to do just 3 seconds earlier. Whatever! I see a lot of these battles during the course of my job. Once an old white man was very out of place knocking on a door in a neighborhood that was pretty rough. Somebody called because he was knocking on their door and they didn’t recognize him. This guy couldn’t tell me who he was or where he was from or anything. Anyway, luckily, one of the neighbors came out because she recognized him. She said he grew up in that house but hadn’t lived there in 60 years probably. We did finally find his current house and his wife said that she’s having the same battle you describe above as well with her husband. That’s probably even more difficult when the one you live with like that becomes a stranger. Good luck! Sorry to ramble about nothing, I do that sometimes.
that’s such a sad story about the man and his old house. 😦
oh yeah, rambling is a problem too. 😉
oooh this was so hard for me NOT to relate to. and that scares me so much. 😦 growing old can suck, and can be so damn scary.
not for the frail of heart.
I have NEVER ever been good with directions and it use to not bother me that much but they older I get the more panicked and stressed I become about it. Such heartbreak to be navigating that with your dad every single moment of every single day. I am sorry.
thank you.it sucks but you get used to what you’ve got, ya know.
I do that all the time . . . drive an overly familiar route while distracted, only to come back to and be utterly confused as to where I am. It is a bit frightening. I can only imagine having to deal with that sensation in your head every day on an increasingly more frequent basis. This was a great metaphor to what your dad is experiencing. I’m sorry that you both are dealing with it.
it’s totally frightening. thank you.
That is awfully scary. I had a moment the other day where I was driving, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t been paying the slightest bit of attention for at least 5 minutes. I have absolutely no idea how I got where I was, and am really thankful that I didn’t hit anything (or anyone). My brain was just somewhere else completely.
i know!! it’s crazy!
I’m so sorry you and your dad are dealing with this – that is one of my biggest fears. Powerful post.
thank you so much. and i know. it’s freaks me out too.
Must have been unsettling to catch a glimpse into your Dad’s world. This has happened to me before, too. It’s like, one minute you’re in Kansas, and the next you’re in Oz. Scary the way our minds work.
i know. those moments definitely can freak you out.
I think about this all the time. None of my parents or in-laws are there yet, but I can see it creeping up, and it terrifies me. It must terrify them more.
i try to remember how he feels when i’m totally frustrated. not easy.
Your ending paragraph hurt my heart a little bit.
i know… it’s sad. 😦
I worry about growing old. I worry that I will fall and break something and be incapacitated in some way. I can’t imagine forgetting the people I love. This was so well told, the irony was wonderful and your last sentence? perfection.
getting old ain’t easy… all around. it’s depressing. but thank you.
Wow, I can’t imagine what it must be like to start forgetting important things and people. And I completely understand your Dad’s point of view — not sure what I would do if people started telling me I couldn’t be on my own anymore. Hope your Dad continues to be safe.
i know. i understand it too. it’s a horrible position to be in. thank you.
I think it’s fortunate for me that I live in the country, and if I do miss my turn, (and it happens lots!) I can always convince myself I need to go around the block to check crops or some other farmy type thing.
I really noticed my eyesight dropping off over the last while. small print is really getting difficult. I’m not looking forward to old age at all! ………older age!
I love this. The tables turning. So very well written.
I love your writing. Love it. My husband’s grandfather just passed away after battling with dementia for years. It was terribly sad to watch. And now I can’t seem to remember why I went into the kitchen. Am I supposed to cook? Am I supposed to eat? Am I supposed to clean that unidentifiable stain from the table? I forget, so I go back to the couch and watch TV until I can remember. Ugh.
thank you so much. really. because i love your writing. i was bummed when you got voted off idol. i totally thought you could win. anyway, it is so sad. ugh is right!
Always a tough situation with a parent. But that autopilot driving thing happens more than I lie to admit and a big time waster. I’m scared to lose my mind.
i know. terrifying!
Such a difficult situation and sometimes the compassion and understanding just can’t balance the frustration and stress. Take care of yourself.
That last line – so true. I really feel for you with this situation. It’s so hard. Wishing you peace.
I also feel for you. Now that I’m past 60, any memory lapse like that is even more scary–is it the beginning of something? I have an elderly cousin who was living alone, suffering dementia, and wouldn’t accept an aide, Meals on Wheels, or any of that–last year her son finally kidnapped her (literally) and drove her cross-country to put her into assisted living near his home. This is really tough, and there aren’t any good answers. I hope things will turn out well for you and your father.
thank you. me too. life’s road isn’t always smoothly paved and i guess, you don’t always know where you’re going to wind up.
The last line of this was especially powerful and right on point. Best of luck to you, dear heart.