So far so good today. Nothing out of the ordinary. I’m in the process of food prepping some of Dad’s favorite fruits so it’s easy to grab and eat whenever he wants it. Growing up, fruits would show up on the table…in a bowl…cut up and easily accessible for us to eat at any time. Now look at me. Returning the favor for my Dad when he looks and, more often than not, acts as if he’s totally capable of doing it himself. (He does and he doesn’t, depending.)
The neighbor walks in the door to say Hi. (If you know you know. Our house was always “Open House” to anyone and everyone. You were always welcomed.) We start talking story and before you know it, Dad gets up from eating his dinner and heads over to the kitchen sink.
Seeing the papaya that I started to cut earlier, he begins to rip up the pieces of skin. I didn’t know until time passed and the neighbor and I realized he had been at the sink for a while. I walked over to check up on him.
The side of the sink he was on was the compartment with the disposal. The cover was on so nothing could go down. My dad is a plumber, so we are definitely used to grinding everything since we always had a high-powered disposal. He had the water running, the sink was filling up, and he continued to rip pieces of papaya skin and throw it into the water.
Then he turned on the disposal, but nothing was happening. (The cover was still on blocking anything from going down.)
I watched with him. Careful not to appear like I knew more or was telling him what to do. In his eyes, I’m still his daughter. (In his eyes, still a "little girl”) I looked over at him and said “Hmmm. I wonder if we take off this cover it would work??” He motioned a “No” with his head and was flushed in the face. I’ve never seen him “turn red” before so I knew something was not ok here.
He kept looking down at the water rising and the papaya skin floating around in the water. The disposal was making noise but I’m sure he knew that something was just not right.
I got worried that the water would get too high, so I stuck my hand down in there and said “Here, let’s try this.” As I did, he hit my arm and said “NO! Stop it!” But I pulled up the stopper real fast anyway to relieve the situation. (Sometimes you just have to “think fast” and hope for the best.)
Everything started to go down the drain. It’s as if now he could understand what was happening. But he definitely wasn’t happy about it.
I walked away to leave him with the new circumstance. Hoping that he was going to catch on and send everything down the grinder. He ended up washing his hands and walking away so I returned to the sink and finished the job.
He had no desire to be sociable after that all happened. And didn’t finish his dinner. Instead, he went off outside to fiddle with other things until he was ready to return to the kitchen and sit down with us and listen in on the latest. Laughing, joking, and offering sage advice as usual.
Did I upset him?
Did the situation upset him?
Did he know his brain was not connecting the dots?
Maybe a combination of all of the above?
It’s got to be frustrating for someone so used to his independence and for always being the one we call on for help. He’s not used to being the one needed the support.
And just how is he supposed to ask for something that you don’t even realize you need?
Dementia. It’s such a tricky one.
Especially in that “in between” stage where you’re still ok but really not.