About The Video Of My Father And Our Dog

Mom and Dad, Thanksgiving 2013

Mom and Dad, Thanksgiving 2013

Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of spending a little bit of time with my dad who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimers. I’ve written quite a few posts about our family’s journey through this terrible disease, and the support and care from family, friends and even strangers has been a comfort not only to me but to my mom. She has faced the biggest impact of anyone, and the grace and dignity she’s exhibited is nothing short of a miracle. She is the living example of what it means to live out your vows of for better or for worse and in sickness and in health.

My parents have two dogs in their home, one of which, Molly, is my father’s constant companion. More than once, I’ve watched him coo and talk to Molly even as his ability to form sentences and find the words he needs to communicate has deteriorated.

Dad in his favorite chair with his favorite dogs.

Dad in his favorite chair with his favorite dogs.

When my father and I arrived at my home yesterday to give my mom an hour to run some errands, our own family dog, Roscoe, greeted him at the door. For the next hour, my father petted and talked to Roscoe. Not wanting to lose the memory of the moment, I filmed a few moments of his interaction with our dog, amazed at the clarity of my father’s words.

That evening, I watched the clips of videos and wanted to share the moment with my mom and our family. I wanted a memory for all of us to hold onto and spent some time editing the clips into a small video with the help of my teenage son. Once we were happy with the video, I created a personal Youtube account and uploaded the video, sending my mom the link. I also shared the video on Reddit from an account that prior to this post had next to no activity.

I had no idea the video would touch so many people or be shared so many times. The comments and emails – for the most part – have been a wonderfully moving procession of individuals sharing their own journey through Alzheimers or dementia. It is a cruel disease, and the kind words of others who have faced similar experiences has left me feeling not quite so alone in it all.

And for those who continue to send messages offering to monetize the video, I’m not interested. This was a tribute to my father and the celebration of a beautiful moment within a tremendously difficult journey my mother and father are facing. So thanks, but no thanks. It’s not for sale.

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Sometimes Words Aren’t Necessary

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My dad and I have birthdays two days apart, so growing up we often shared one Red Velvet Cake. Somehow it made it more special. He’s been on my mind a lot this week, I think because our shared birthday is quickly approaching.

He’ll be 81 and is struggling with some of the beginning stages of dementia. Although his memory is better some days than others, the thing I see him struggle with the most is just being able to find the words to say what is on his mind. The thoughts and emotions are there, but all too often he works to bring out words that just won’t cooperate.

We met last week for breakfast, my parents and I, and his hearing aid was being repaired. It meant that he missed out on even listening to our visit. It had been a particularly rough week for me, and as I shared some of my worries with my mom, Dad sat quietly across from me smiling from time to time. And as we readied to leave, I reached out to hug him goodbye. He simply gathered me up in a long hug, kissed the top of my head, and said all the words I needed to hear.

“You’re mine,” he said. “You’re mine.”

Sometimes words really aren’t necessary.