I had no idea what to expect when we got to the home, the unknown is always scary but I threw caution to the wind so that I could support Maryann. She's my family and she needs me... I had to be there for her.
I too needed to see Uncle Al and he needed to see Maryann and me together. Uncle Al gained enough consciousness to recognize us together. I knew he understood what he was seeing. When I said, "Uncle Al, your dream has come true, Maryann and I are best buddies again, just like you wanted. You did it, Uncle Al!" He turned to me and said, "Ya, but for how long?!" Spoken like a true DiPietro.
Uncle Al is still here, he's inside his fragile frame, just like my mom. Both siblings are slipping away, racing for the finish line, who will go first? It's a slow decline at first and then like a crack of lightning striking, progression of their disease is faster and faster.
Verbal communication is nearly impossible with Uncle Al. Most folks have given up now and say, "He or she isn't there." You know what... you are wrong. They are there and need family to help guide them to the finish line of their life on Earth. Think about it, if you were the one in Al or Jo's situation, wouldn't you want to know that you were not forgotten by family?
It's easy to ignore a dying senior, it's not glamorous, most times there's shit involved, real excrement which can cause even the strongest individual to run for the hills. From experience, this is when the people we love need us the most. Our seniors need us to usher them out; allowing them to see that their family will be OK once they get on the Bus to Heaven. Dying seniors need to feel the love as much as any of us need love to feel satisfied. Why not tell folks when they are alive how you feel instead of waiting until they pass ... you'll avoid a lot of "I shoulda's" and save yourself lots of mental anguish.
Because I am a Care Giver for a parent with dementia, I understand the importance of loving family right to the end... actions speak louder than words. For this reason, I gave up my first Saturday that I could have spent with my husband to see Uncle Al and support Maryann.
Yesterday, I witnessed the love a daughter has for a dad. I remembered my own dad and how I mourned for 3 years after his death in 1979, I was only 18 when he passed and it sucked. I remembered the pain, I remembered the emptiness, the numbness that Maryann was feeling as I saw her put her forehead on her dad's forehead as she said, "I love you Daddy."
Uncle Al felt his little girl's love, I saw it on his face. This picture tells a story that no words can express.
And that is how I spent my first Saturday of respite.