A Father’s Day Card for the Alzheimer’s Patient

This Father’s Day, I would just like to say that I hate greeting cards.

I mean, I don’t hate hate them.  Hate is a pretty strong word.  But it’s so hard to find a good one.  So many are just way too cheesy or lovey-dovey or otherwise contain a message that I would never actually say to a person.  Some try to be funny but are actually very stupid.  Others are outright lies.  So, you could say that choosing the perfect greeting card is difficult for me at best.

Choosing a greeting card for a dad with Alzheimer’s Disease is just absolute and total nonsense.

And yet, to not give him a Father’s Day card is unthinkable.

Why are you giving me a picture of a leaf?
Why are you giving me a picture of a leaf?

Here is the fact:  my dad will not understand any message in any card I could possibly choose for him.  He doesn’t know he is my father.  He doesn’t even know what the word ‘father’ means.  He doesn’t understand that he raised me, he doesn’t remember making a sled out of a baby bathtub and dragging my sister and me around in the snow.  He has no recollection of taking me to Hills for fancy hot dog and Icee dinners.  NOTHING IN ANY GREETING CARD AT ALL WILL MEAN ANYTHING TO HIM.  “Relax and kick your feet up, Dad!  It’s Father’s Day!”

It would be easy enough just to ignore Father’s Day, at least where he is concerned, but of course I won’t.  I will go to see him and tell him “Happy Father’s Day,” and he will say, “What?  What’s that?  Are we going to church?”  It’s weird, how you can kind of get used to a sadness like this one.

He’s alive.  He’s there, and yet he is so totally not there.

And since everyone knows that if you can’t speak to someone directly, you should instead write your thoughts on the internet – here are some things I’d like to thank my dad for this Father’s Day.

  • For showing me that it’s okay when people laugh at you. Of course it’s nice when people laugh with you, but having them laugh at you is usually a different story.  My dad never cared.  He did not differentiate between the two at all.  He would do anything to be funny and if people were laughing, it was good.  Period.
  • For living without hate.  My dad hated no one, and no one hated him.  My grandma – his mother-in-law – did, periodically, try her best to hate him.  It never worked, because he never hated her back.  Hating him was like sending a hate missile up into space, where it would explode harmlessly and dissipate into the ether.  He did not compute hate.  I think if more people could ignore hate as successfully as he did, we’d have a way different kind of world.
  • For accepting everyone my sister and I ever brought home, even when they were idiots. And on the flip side, for telling them they were idiots in the nicest and funniest manner possible.  I’m remembering the perfectly employable boyfriend who said, “Guess what?  I qualified for food stamps!” And my dad said, “Guess what?  You’re an asshole.”  And then we all went and had lunch.
  • For forcing me to go to Kennywood that time it was “Polish day.” Even though I’d just had a long day at work and was hungover.  It’s a good memory that I wouldn’t have if he wasn’t so naggy and persistent.
  • For still wanting to pay for me everywhere we go.  Even though he doesn’t know I’m his daughter.  And no longer has a wallet.
  • For that time he smashed a sleeper sofa to smithereens in our front yard.  For obvious reasons.
  • For taking care of his business. My dad always did what he had to do, and didn’t complain about it.  When he saw a problem he tried to fix it.  Often to disastrous results, but still.  In my opinion and apparently in his, trying and failing is better than whining and doing nothing.
  • For taking me to see Staying Alive and Xanadu.  Not because I wanted to see them, but because he did, and thus proving that in all situations, you should just like what you like and never explain yourself to the other 1970’s dads who might not understand.
  • For badgering the adoption agency until they gave him a baby. My mother says he drove them batshit crazy, and I know him well enough to believe it.  I am pretty sure I ended up where I am today simply to shut my father up, and for that, I am forever grateful.   

Incidentally, I did end up buying my dad a greeting card.  It’s pretty stupid, and I’ll have to explain it several times, and even then it won’t mean anything to him.  Still, I’m hoping that if he looks at it after I leave, he’ll see the “I love you” in it, and the words will make him happy even if the meaning doesn’t get through.

I doubt it, though, so in case it doesn’t, I have just ordered Xanadu (Magical Edition) from Amazon.  On DVD!  The other seniors in the TV room are in for a real treat.

Happy Father’s Day.

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  1. Beautiful and poignant as ever. And you are right – he will see your words – and feel in your actions – that he is loved…. the rest doesn’t matter to him anyway. I went through the first mother’s day without my mum, but I took her out to lunch anyway and ate creamy pavlova and looked like an idiot on my own, but I knew I wasn’t so I didn’t care. Because I knew I was loved and the rest didn’t matter…

    1. Thank you, Alana – the blessing of being over 40 is believing you look like an idiot, and doing it anyway. Good for you 🙂

  2. Love it! Made me laugh and cry! So true that you learn to live with the sadness too, and that made me more sad. I love the image of him pestering for a baby, driving them batshit mad! It sounds like you’ve been so lucky to have him as your father and now he is so lucky to have you, even if he doesn’t know it anymore. Love reading your blog x

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