This is an excerpt from the Baltimore Sun article “Dementia’s greed: The condition claimed my mother’s personality and my father’s happiness | GUEST COMMENTARY” written by Gregory Tucker.
“Dementia in its various forms is rarely satisfied with only one victim in a family. In mine, it has claimed both parents, though only Mom has been afflicted. Dad suffers inconsolable, near-debilitating grief that has made him, too, barely recognizable as the person we have known our entire lives.
In the more than 50 years I can recall, I never saw Dad cry. He now sobs regularly, often choking on his words and unable to finish a sentence. He typically has to be cajoled into joining restaurant dinners, family gatherings, grandchildren’s sporting events or just about anything that would otherwise provide a few hours of relief and welcome distraction. He’s utterly preoccupied with the loss of the person he married nearly 63 years ago and consumed with sadness over the fact that simple, routine pleasures are denied his wife — birthday celebrations, grandchildren’s graduations and weddings, planting flowers, getting ice cream. He feels guilt that he is still able to do the things they so often did together, while she sits confined among strangers in the type of place they both swore never to put the other.
Physically, Mom is still with us. But we are now deprived of the vivacious, fun-loving and energetic woman she was: a wife, a mother to four sons, a grandmother to 11, a great-grandmother to two she will never know, and a friend to many, making us all victims of her disease. Indeed, it’s a “long goodbye,” as described by the 40th president who bravely acknowledged contracting the same disease. But it’s also a cruel, merciless one in the protracted manner extreme dementia taunts loved ones desperate for any indication that the person they have known and loved for so long can still be glimpsed.”