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August 20, 2010 - Jennifer Brookens
Last night, my mother and I had some serious bonding time. When it comes to gifts, I'm not really able to give her things that I feel she deserves, but I was pleased to be able to take her to the fair where "The Association" was playing. I knew this would be special because the song "Cherish" was my parents' song.
It's been three years since we lost my father, her husband of nearly 40 years. We ended up not fighting for a seat to watch the concert, but instead sat in the beer garden where the sound was just as good. The conversation got deeper from the kids and her social life to my father. She talked about their past, like the things they went through in order to get married, coming from two different religious backgrounds. Then, as my mother described it, "looking into the Abyss," as they faced down my father's Alzheimers.
There IS no easy way when it comes to this awful disease. For years my father denied it, hid it from us. My mother was forbidden to tell anyone, even though she told me. It caused rifts between us and my father's side of the family, because they were kept in the dark ... Luckily, those fences were mended in time for my father to be able to leave this Earth with his wife and his sisters by his side...
While I was there and experienced some of these stories she told, I either didn't hear or blocked out some of the dirty details from the past. It was surreal to be hearing my parents' song playing, and hearing my mother sob as she told the story of just how my father died. It was in contrast to the festive midway lights around us, and others happily chatting and socializing around us.
But it was OK. While I'm usually self-conscious and hate having anyone see me close to upset, much less crying, this time we let it flow and didn't care if anyone noticed.
My mother is preparing to write a book about my dad's disease and our family's struggle, and she has asked for my help. I am honored, yet also feel the pressure of this challenge. I know I will be forced to face a lot of demons I stuffed away into the "hurt locker." But at the same time, I know it will be one of the best things I can do, for myself, for my family, in my father's memory, and for anyone who will read it and take comfort in knowing they're not alone. And that life goes on, and it gets better.
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