I miss my Dad. But then again i always have.
My Dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia in July 2005. In this year i was also engaged, married and lost my beloved dog Snoopy who had been my best friend for thirteen years. It was the start of many ups and downs that would last a few years.
Binswanger's disease has robbed him of a lot of his dignity, and he now resides in a lovely little 'apartment' in a safe complex with 24 hour care at hand. Yeah he's in a nursing home. A good one, we were lucky and patient. My older brother and my Mum looked after him before then. I helped out for a little while by living with him for half the week until I was 6 months pregnant and struggling, physically and emotionally. He now has his own room and bathroom, foxtel, a bigger tv than I do and all his own furniture. He eats breakfast lunch and dinner with people 30 years older than him who fall asleep in their meals though. It's such a sleepy, quiet place.
We were never extremely close. It was always Saz and Mum, Dad and the boys. Mostly I don't blame him for not being close to me; we didn't have much in common. We have grown closer now that I am older, i make an effort and we talk more, we sing old songs and we recite Banjo Patterson poems together, tears streaming down his face and welling in mine. But sometimes I do mind that we weren't close when i was younger. When I needed him. I know i used to mind. So what if we didn't have things in common, freekin' make something up - you're my Dad! I learned those Banjo Patterson poems for him. Off by heart. I ran and jumped and shot putted and ran and still came last in every race until i discovered what i was good at and stopped going to Little Athletics at Duffy's oval and stayed home listening to, playing and writing music. Good call!
This illness has brought out a softness in him, a vulnerability of sorts. The pomposity is gone but the cryptic crossword lover remains. Who would have thought you could be knowledgeable without being a wanker about it? I jest... I like knowing things that he knows now. Very much.
I have an aversion to know-it-alls and my reactions are always exaggerated by my sore spot which i earned from Dad in my youth. I grew up being condemned for saying 'um' and 'like' and 'hate - it is too strong a word!' And my shows were silly, I turned on the waterworks instead of just accepting a punishment properly, I was spoiled by Mum… I get all of it. I love what it's done for me, I love to write and i can use their, there and they're in the correct way. Most of the time. But you need more than that in a Dad. You need someone who is open and loving and gentle and careful with his gift of a daughter. And thankfully i've dug around and found our relationship later in our lives, that one will just have to do. I'll love him and he'll love me in our own funny little way. And we'll just carry on carrying on.
Until he forgets my name…
And i will carry on loving and forgiving him. Forever.