He is near 84 years old now, and is beset by Alzheimer's Disease. His is not the struggle, though. As any spouse of an Alzheimer's patient knows, it is toughest on the spouse. Readjusting expectations is of primary importance, and understanding that you can not get mad that the other forgets almost everything that happens to him on a day-to-day basis.
My father was nominated for Honor Flight which flies veterans to Washington, D.C. It is not easy to be selected to go. You must be picked in a lottery. But this past Wednesday, my father was on the early flight to our capitol and was treated as a hero. He went to the WWII Monument on the Mall and to Arlington National Cemetary. He was taken to lunch, treated well, and escorted by a person from the local network in Cleveland.
I think that, most importantly, it gave my mother a day off. She was able to get a pedicure, relax, have lunch with friends, and not worry about my father's schedule or whereabouts for the entire day. It was a well-deserved and long-past-due respite.
But the most interesting part of the day happened when my mom called me to recount the day's events. She told the story of the return to the airport of the veterans from their day in Washington, how the people waiting for their relatives and friends lined up in the concourse, how they were cheered and saluted and thanked for their bravery. One little boy near my mom thanked the veterans for "saving us."
My mom cried when she told me this. My mom hasn't cried out of pride or happiness for my father in many years.
My eyes are welling up as I retell this.
If your father is still around, call him and tell him you love him, or go over to his house and give him a hug and a kiss. Don't forget to kiss your mother and thank her for taking care of your father and raising you, too. And let them both know, on this Father's Day, that you appreciate the sacrifices that they made for you, whether you know of them or not.
I know that I'm a prisoner to all my father held so dear.
I know that I'm a hostage to all his hopes and fears.
I just wish I could have told him in the living years...
I wasn't there that morning when my father passed away.
I didn't get to tell him all the things I had to say.
Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye