Thanks, Sheila for starting this board. I was only recently told about it, but I find it worth the time to read.
My father died a number of years ago,but his story seems appropriate, maybe even meaningful to some here.
Dad was one of the smartest men I ever knew. He was limited by his 9th grade education (Born to a poor white trash Southern family in Louisiana.) He was a hard worker and eventually earned a good living selling office supplies. He was a deacon in his Baptist church, and he was the go-to man on biblical questions.
When he became senile, it was hard for the family to accept. He had always been the tower of strength for everyone else. My sister lived nearby, and she noticed it first, even before Mom did. My brother also noticed it. At first I did not. Why? I lived 1500 miles away and only saw him occasionally. When I came to visit, he visibly improved - he didn’t want me to see him “like that”.
He fell and broke his hip one night. He got an artificial hip, but never was able to use it. The pain bothered him too much and he couldn’t understand that he needed to bear it and learn to walk again. So he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Eventually Mom had him moved to a “retirement home” - the kind with two beds in a room and a community cafeteria. Mom was sure that was all they could afford. Besides that was the only experience she had ever had with retirement homes.
Eventually he couldn’t recognize my brother. This hurt Bro a lot, because he could recognize Mom and our sister. Worst of all, when I came to visit maybe every three months, he would immediately brighten up and call me by the childhood name I had made up for myself (Because I couldn’t pronounce my name.)
Interestingly, he could still play cards and dominoes, so I would play dominoes with him. He was much better than I was. He would look at the board and announce, “The five-deuce will get you 15!” I had not seen it. (And I played something else because I wanted him to win.) He would sing smutty little songs from his childhood. He died a shell of the man I had known as my dad.