Eliza Grace was born on March 15, 2006, at 26 weeks, 4 days, weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and measuring just 11.5 inches long. She is the light of my soul and this is the story of our life in the big city.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Life Comes Full Circle

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


Sarah Furlough said...

What a touching post, Anne. My own grandfather had Alzheimer's, it really is a sad disease.

I know it is hard to see someone you love deteriorate so much, but how sweet he thinks he hasn't forgotten Eliza.

I will keep your Dad in my prayers.

The Walsh's said...

Oh my goodness! Beautiful post. The last line reminded me of something a lady said to me the other day in the hospital. I was holding Lincoln in a waiting room and so many people were asking about him, how old he was, how cute he was - And this lady beside me, probably in her early to mid 80s, leaned over and whispered, "Funny how everyone wants you around when you're young and no one does when you're old." She made me cry and I gave her a big hug. I know that it seems easy for you to be there for your Dad, but so many people walk away from their parents when the going gets tough in their old age. I commend you for your commitment to him and the relationship between him and Eliza. It will be so special to Eliza when she gets older and I'm sure it means the world to your Dad now. Kudos.

Anne, Eliza Grace's mom said...

Eliza is quite the hit at Daddy's nursing home. Even just wheeling her down the hall in her stroller puts a smile on the residents' faces. So many of them never have anyone visit. I am always shocked at how easily the elderly are forgotten.

Now if I could only explain to Miss Minnie at the home that she needs to use purell before touching Eliza!

abby said...

That was a very touching post, Anne. I often think about such things (my mom is 80). Even though her health is good, she is not strong enough to take care of Hallie on her own.

On another note: where in Brooklyn is your dad from? I'm originally from Brooklyn (Mill Basin), though I usually just say New York (and omit my first 17 years of life and focus instead on the 4 years I spent in college on the Upper West Side). My mom and dad are also from Brooklyn. And I used to believe that everyone in the world was from Brooklyn, but that was before I moved to Philly.

Cathy said...

this is such a sweet tribute to your father and your daughter.

and yes life does come full circle!

Shannon said...

Very nice post Anne. Sounds like you have an amazing dad and Eliza has an amazing grandpa.