Daddy-Daughter Dance at the Shooting Range…

My dad used to call me his “princess” or “buckaroo.” Not anymore. My dad was always my favorite parent. He wasn’t exactly the disciplinarian, unless I did something really bad like crash my car—5 times (only 3 accidents were technically my fault)—and he would always indulge me whenever he could. The perks of being an only child and his daughter, I suppose.

But with mom being sick, our relationship has changed…. he’s a husband and parent and I’m a daughter and parent of a wife and mother. Strange. We don’t always agree on her caregiving…. he’s still my dad and her husband, so while our arguments aren’t exactly arguments, they’re tifts, mini squabbles that end fast, never escalating, just disagreements—I don’t know what they are really….. some jacked-up daddy-daughter dance, I think we’re both trying to do what’s best for our demented loved one without pissing off the other.

Clumsily treading some twisted dance floor, never looking at each other directly in the eye, that would be awkward… an uneven parquet floor, desperately avoiding each other’s toes. It’s often rather gauche. And sometimes subtle moves are made to steer the other partner in another direction. Trip. Ouch. My toe.

I miss my dad. I don’t have any other family in Phoenix and I often feel very alone. It’s just the two of us—and sometimes, I do wish my mother’s disease would take her away, so I, selfishly, could have my daddy back….. dinners, lunch, drinks… political conversations, movies…. maybe even holidays with friends… These days, holidays aren’t my thing—I like them, but I’m not into them because for me there’s no point…. instead they’re just a tragically grotesque reminder of what IS and what will never BE.

“We should visit your parents again, maybe lunch or take your dad shooting…”

That’s HIM. The man I’ve been dating now for almost four months. I couldn’t believe it—he actually wants to spend time with my family. That’s weird. He wants to hang out with my dad. He is willing to sit through lunch while my mom forces him to eat carmel popcorn (she shoveled a handful onto his plate the first time he came over, he graciously accepted). Who is this dude? This CANNOT be real or HE cannot be human. But he is. He accepts me and my family for who we are. He knows that I miss my dad and that I wish I could have my Kat and dad time…. without my mom.

So this Saturday, the three of us are going out shooting and then bringing back Chinese food for lunch with the man and the fam.

Ramblings of a Damned Daughter. Love. Family.

I’m just gonna say it. I am not digging Christmas this year. At all. 2009 has been, all in all, a challenging year for me and I just don’t feeling like toasting the holidays. OK, maybe I’m focusing more on the negatives of the year — there have been plenty…… but lots of positives too. Good job. Good friends. Lots of love. Kind acts. Two balls of fluffy kitten love. Sunny skies in December. Parents who love me very much. A mother who still tries to mother me……………… in her own demented way. I suppose love is the thing. Love takes strength. Love is courage. Love is fearlessness. Stare love in face. See what you get back.

Interestingly, I’ve been called a pessimist or negative a lot this year……
thing is, I challenge anyone to walk in my shoes (or any caregiver’s shoes, especially the full-timers) and still see the silver lining every second of every day.

I struggle with that label: NEGATIVE. But the thing is, this disease never really lets me move on. Every week is a reminder of the loss. When the holidays come around, it’s like taking a BIG YELLOW HIGHLIGHTER and highlighting the fucking loss……… specifically, the loss of family or what I always wanted family to be. Happiness, lots of people, a big living room filled with tinsel and laughter.

My heart is filled with a mixed bag of emotions…………….sadness, happiness, grief, anger, passion, frustration, love, joy, wishes, fears, anxiety, wildly vivid dreams, HOPE.

I confuse myself.

There are days when I feel strong. There are days when I am my own worst enemy. I have no idea when this is going to end. It’s terrible to say, but when I think of HER death, I think of the ties that bind being cut loose. FINALLY. Freedom? I don’t know. Will guilt consume me instead? Will the holidays serve as a reminder of how I failed her or how I should have done more?

Negative.

Blue.

Life is good.

Optimist.

Glass half empty.

Full.

Family.

L’amour.

Death.

Dark.

Angel.

Dismal.

Blue.

Me.

Nefarious thoughts.

I have no bits of wisdom when it comes to any of this.

I could give you my usual HOLIDAY TO DO LIST: Keep the crowds to a minimum, it may confuse your demented parent. Try to stick to the schedules. Don’t ask, “Do you remember…….,” avoid celebrating around sun downing, etc. You know this. You can Google this…………. instead, I want to talk about the caregivers and how the holidays affect all of us, part-time, full-time, near and far.

Dementia is a TERMINAL disease.

We are the damned ones.

Oh dear.

This post has turned quite negative.

I’ll leave it as such.

A dash of hope.

There is a light, but there is also another tunnel behind it.

REALIST.