November 11, 2020 is my first Remembrance Day without my father. He served in WWII on the HMCS Ettrick. He never talked of the war when I was a child. By the time I was born, it was long past.
As he got older, memories of his youth became more important. Once mom was in care, he was alone in the house. I would often find him lost in thought, and when I asked what he was thinking about, he would tell me he was “reminiscing” …
His whole life he had told me stories, and so as our roles began to reverse. I the caregiver and he the one needing care, I began to tell him his own stories … the ones he had told me over and over … the one about the painting of the little girl, the one about the eight-legged dog from “Ew Bah Chi,” and then, for the last part of his journey, I made him his own story:
Once upon a time, a long long time ago, a little boy was born, the fifth child of …
I repeated it to him often; at most visits near the end. I think it was more the sound of my voice that gave him comfort. Like a parent reading a bedtime story to a child. The story gave me comfort too. He was more than what he appeared. He had a story. He was important. Especially to me.
Covid came and I was locked out of the facility where he lived in mid-March. Mid-May, on Queen Victoria Day, he passed. Almost exactly 10 years after my mother left us, they were together again. I miss them both every day, but today, on this day of Remembering, it is especially hard.
Stories, especially those that review the important people and events in a person’s life, can help Alzheimer’s patients stay grounded. I encourage you to tell your loved ones stories … about your life; about what and who is important to you. You never know, someday, someone may be telling your story to you.