“Despise not our petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer them, amen.”
I sat on the edge of the bed praying the Memorare, asking the Blessed Virgin to intercede on my behalf, on behalf of my father. I felt helpless. I could hear him sobbing between the words of indecipherable prayers down the hall through closed doors. I had seen him in various states of confusion before but never as out of control as this day.
“Damnit!” “You ruined my Christmas!” “How could you be so stupid?”
Tears streamed down my father’s face as he yelled at me. In his anger he pulled the hearing aids from his ears and threw them to the floor. He begged me to let him use my car. He begged me to take him to the church so he would not miss Midnight Mass. He threatened to walk to the church.
Mom had to leave the house at five to unlock the church and to play the organ for the children’s mass at six on Christmas Eve. The pastor would be saying mass at another church and wouldn’t be able to open this church in time. She thought Dad understood that she would be playing for two masses; he would stay at home with me during the first one. She would come home afterward and the rest of the family would join her for the Midnight Mass.
He tried to get dressed quickly so he could join her but I urged my mom to go ahead and leave without him. She was already running late and in such a state of confusion Dad might be disruptive during mass.
I tried as best I could to explain to him that he wasn’t missing Midnight Mass. He wouldn’t or couldn’t believe me. I was a bad daughter who was mean to her father. He had raised me better.
I was frightened but I remained calm as best I could. I knew he wasn’t culpable for what he was saying. I called my sister and asked her to come over as soon as possible. She and her boyfriend made it as soon as they could but I was still alone with him for almost an hour, an hour that seemed much longer.
When she arrived my dad was in the bedroom but he had been quiet for some time. After a while he came out but didn’t make any mention of his earlier outburst though he still seemed very confused.
My sister started our Christmas Eve dinner and I tried to calm down. I felt better with other people in the house. Mom hurried home as soon as possible after mass. Dad asked to talk to her in the bedroom. He told her that he had said some bad things to me but did not elaborate.
I wonder if when he talked to my mom he remembered what originally made him upset. His short term memory had deteriorated noticeably in recent months. Alzheimer’s disease is brutal. The patient suffers horribly but the loved ones suffer too.
This is one of the last memories I have of my father before he died. Two weeks later he was hospitalized with the flu. He passed away on January 16th, 2008.
Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine;
et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiscat in pace.