As some of you know, my Dad has pretty advanced Alzheimer's. Although his symptoms have been lingering for a few years now, he was "OK" until this past March when he took a bad fall which in hindsight was more like falling off a cliff for him. Although he stopped driving a few years ago, he and my Mom still traveled and were out of the country when I was hospitalized. They came back right away and stayed by my side until Eliza was born a few weeks later. While Eliza was in the NCCU, my parents took the bus to visit her about three times a week. Dad didn't say too much about Eliza's condition but was firm in his belief that she just needed to get a little bigger and she would come home.
He would hold Eliza in the NCCU and talk with her about the things she would do someday "when she was sprung from this joint." He even came up with a new use for the Baby Bjorn carrier. Since he knew my mother and I would not leave him alone with Eliza once she came home, he said he could babysit her so long as he had the Ba-Jorn, as he called it. See he figured if he wore Eliza in the Ba-Jorn he wouldn't forget where he put her. Pretty clever thinking for a guy from Brooklyn whose mind was fading.
Daddy is now in a nursing home, his condition having dramatically deteriorated in the past 6 months. There are no more bus rides into the city. Daddy doesn't remember that Eliza was ever in the hospital, which in some ways is a good thing, because there are many days I wish I could forget. But Daddy does remember Eliza, as if she has always been here, looking just the way she does today, never having been tiny, sick or dying. He always wants to know if it is Tuesday. Tuesday is the day he and my Mom used to visit Eliza once she was home from the hospital. So now, when we visit on Saturdays, Saturday becomes Tuesday.
Daddy and Eliza are on the same diet now, pureed foods and high calorie formula to keep their weight up. Strange how the end of life resembles the beginning of life so much.
Photo: Eliza Grace and her Grandpa, October 2006