Updating My Reading Friends: About My Dad

Today Facebook told me there are over 900 people who haven’t heard from me in a while, so I thought I would write a post. In truth, I wrote a few posts last week but I thought I’d like to tell you what has been keeping me so occupied.

My dad is dying.

My dad, whom I have written about before, is now 95 years old and in failing health. He has dementia and has been experiencing a variety of complications as a result of this terrible disease. Numerous infections, repeated pneumonia, and increasing falls keep his caregivers (and us) on red alert.

Personal Observations

I spent several days with him before he was moved into a memory care unit, and I had the opportunity to observe him when he woke in the middle of the night. As it is with many dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, his days and nights are mixed up. He gets up and gets dressed at 1 or 2 am, and thinks it is time to go somewhere. One particular night, he got up and went into the bathroom. He was in there a very long time and I peeked in the door to be sure he was alright. There he stood, stacking coins inside a drawer, over and over and over. He was not in reality, and was clearly somewhere else in his mind; performing an important task.

At that time he redirected easily, but not anymore. Now, he is agitated, restless, and even occasionally combative. He struggles to speak because he cannot form the words he wants to say. He is frequently frustrated and angry because there is still a small part of him in there somewhere that understands this difficulty, and he cannot change it. Two months ago, my dad was bowling twice a week and was looking forward to golfing with my siblings. The most recent bout with double pneumonia has stolen this possibility. We have sadly accepted these things will never happen again.

The most difficult aspect of this disease is that my dad has simply gone away. He is physically there, but the essence of who he was is gone. He doesn’t know us anymore. He doesn’t know our names or that we are his children. Until recently, we could get him talking about “the old days” when he was in the Navy during WWII, the early years of his and my mom’s marriage, and family events and holidays. Not any more. This evil disease has stolen even those long term memories. It will soon take his life.

Spiritual Implications

My primary concern for my dad is his eternity. When I saw him last, the Lord provided a rare lucid block of time for my dad to talk to me. It was truly a gift. He believed he was going to die from pneumonia, and wanted to be sure I knew what to do when he did. He talked about where he was to be buried and such, and I assured him it would be handled according to his wishes. I had the opportunity to once again give him the gospel, and this time he didn’t reject it. He didn’t make a profession of faith in Christ, but he didn’t reject it as he did before. Unfortunately, we were interrupted by the nursing staff, and the conversation was lost, not to be regained.

I want my dad to be saved, more than just about anything else in the world. Time is slipping away and the end of his earthly life grows closer every hour. His mind also grows dimmer every day and there is no guarantee that he will ever remember we had that conversation.  I am comforted by the fact that the God who made him can go places within him that no mortal can go. God can communicate with his inner man, and remind him of his need for the salvation that comes by faith alone in Jesus Christ. God will not “lose” my dad in dementia. If it is His will that my dad lives for eternity in heaven, this disease will not prevent it from happening. I trust God and His sovereignty in this situation; I firmly believe that my dad has until his last breath to express his need for Jesus to save him. I pray it is His will.

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