We’ve all heard the adage, “Celebrate the BIG things” as often, probably, as we hear the opposite adage that says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Well, sometimes those lines get blurred along the way and the small stuff becomes big and the big things seem surreal. We’ve got one of those surreal BIG things coming our way. Confused? So is my Dad!
Dad’s having a rough time with his memory these days. He is suffering from a rapidly-progressing, age-related memory loss and he is deteriorating far more quickly than any of us realized he could or would. I know we’re not the first family to go through this but it’s not easy to watch this happen… to see the memories of someone you know and love vanish into thin air. People he knew well, barely exist for him. The names of his children are beginning to elude him. Time has little meaning and familial ties are untied in his broken memory. It’s not only hard for us, but it’s hard for him too.
Sadly, he is aware enough to know that he’s becoming the person he didn’t want to be. Someone who needs assistance with the simple things in life… like preparing a meal for himself. And, this is infinitely bothersome to him because he still remembers being adamantly independent. As he’s aware of things slipping away, he hangs on to what he knows — or what he thinks he knows — vehemently.
Like his age!
Recently, Dad expressed irritation with one of the doctors we dragged him to for additional neurological tests. Upon departure, the doctor indicated that Dad was in pretty good physical shape for a man of 78. Dad walked briskly out of the office and stated that he didn’t like that Doctor. When pressed for clarification, he replied, “What the heck is he talking about… 78? I’m not even 50 years old yet!” Upon further questioning, we discovered that Dad is adamant that he is just 49 years of age — in his memory-challenged mind — and will turn 50 on his next birthday… which happens to be Christmas Eve. Mind you, I’m 47 and I have older siblings who are 48, 49 and 51… which makes this statement not only wrong but physically impossible. Dad is 77 years old! Still, despite our best efforts to convince him — writing out all the years since his birth and counting them up one by one, examining his driver’s license (which he does not use any longer) and his passport, proving our own ages to him, and having him take a look in the mirror to see if he can marry his image with this new age — Dad does not — WILL NOT — believe the doctor, nor his children, that this will be his 78th birthday. He now believes, instead, that he is 49 and that his children are mathematically-challenged!
Though it’s not his 50th birthday for us, it absolutely IS for him. So, we’ve decided to throw him a 50th birthday party on Christmas Eve! I mean, who is this party for, anyway? 50 is a big one and should be celebrated in a BIG way! And, what better reason to celebrate whatever birthday it is… than to celebrate while he still can!