April 26, 2012

I'm So Proud of You

One of the gifts my father has given me is his expression of pride.  All my life he has told me he is proud of me, even in those periods of times I didn't feel there was much to be proud of.  Before I had a driver's license and  could drive myself to school, Dad would take me and drop me off on his way to work.  When we arrived at school the last thing Dad would say to me before I got out of the car was, "I love you, and I'm so proud of you."  I've never had  children of my own so I try to pour my love into my nieces and nephews as much as I can.  This gift that Dad gave me is something I want to give to them.  I tell them as often as I can, "I love you, and I'm so very proud of you."  It's true I am. 

I just got off the phone with Dad.  We spoke for ten minutes or less.  I could understand very little of the conversation.  It wasn't a good night as far as his ability to communicate goes.  It is amazing the skills and "tricks" you have to learn in order to deal with a person who has Alzheimer's.  The ability to have a conversation with someone who is not making any sense while responding and speaking in such a way that causes them to believe you do understand them, and you do understand their speech is something that is learned over time.    I have learned how to agree, support, and encourage him and validate his feelings even when I don't have a clue what he is trying to tell me.  It comforts him.  I've also learned how to divert the conversation to something more positive and take him away from the troubling thoughts.  It is somewhat like navigating a mine field, learning where the hot spots are and how to direct him away from them. 

Tonight was one of those nights.  I didn't have a clue what most of the conversation was about, but these words I understood, "I love you and am so proud of you."  They came out loud and clear, and he said them over and over.  Somehow the Lord uses me to bring peace into his chaotic world and he knows it.  Since this disease began we have had an unspoken understanding.  On one occasion he told Mom that he likes to talk to me because he can understand what I'm trying to tell him.  Well, I like to talk to him because he's my dad, and because I love him, and because I'm so very proud of him.

"Gracious Heavenly Father, give Dad sweet rest tonight.  I pray for pleasant dreams.  I pray you will meet him there and take him to a place that is clear, and calm, and happy and where the words come freely.  Thank you for the gift of my Dad."

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