Being around the Atlantic Ocean Of Maine, I have been surrounded by beauty. I have always loved the seashore from when I was thirteen years old to now as a forty-six year old. Three decades have passed since I first was introduced to her as a teenager by mom and dad.
Now, when I think of the sea coast, I do appreciate its splendid beauty but I tend to hold her hand less than I used to. Not that I don't love her any less than I did.
When I first went to the seashore during my summer holiday, I looked intently into her eyes and saw the ravishing beauty under her makeup. I saw her flowing eyebrows as her surf and exploding spume as the garland around her neck. Jewels cast from within my soul to hers.
Now as I visit, I sometimes place my back to her view and treat her nonchalantly. Yet, I do enjoy making my visit. But now it can be tinged with a sense of sadness as I eventually see my time within another decade of this quarterly ritual coming to an end.
Now my dad has entered another stage in his ongoing illness of parkinsons and alzheimer-type dementia. The staff at the Piper Shore's home and my mom felt it was time to provide my dad with more daily supervision and give mom a break in the daily caregiving as well. Right now, I don't know exactly what I will face when I make my pilgrimage back to Maine in another few weeks.
Now that Dad has his own assisted living apartment of his own, he commented to us recently, let us count up the number of bedrooms that we have as a family. First, the main apartment of Mom and I in Piper Shores, mine, Scott's, Randy's in minnesota and Erica's and Abby's. That brings a little levity to the situation since I thought of the same thing a few days earlier. A common link with a sense of humor in a difficult moment that we all face.
A plus of Dad's that would be real cool for me to have is the daily provision of a three meal plan and three snack times. Almost like being back in college and showing up at the cafeteria with my tray to enjoy unlimited entrees of salad and main meal and desserts.
Yet, this will mean that we won't all be eating as a family at our meal times when I visit since dad will be sharing some of his meals in his assisted living wing. It has been a family tradition of ours to share our meals together. I always made it a point to be up in time to do this and if I awoke a little later, dad would be already eating or sitting down after his meal to read some of the daily paper.
Another change for me is that I will no longer have a roommate to share my time with when I sleep. I will have dad's bedroom in the apartment all to myself. A pretty spacious place with some of the furniture out. My own bed and bathroom wing and no snoring or carousing while trying to go to sleep. When we first started the Piper shore journey, I slept on an inflatable mattress with a coverlet over it and a blanket on top. I sometimes would squirm around trying to find the exact balance so I would stay on top of it without the blanket or sheet falling off of it. Then I graduated to the twin bed when mom and dad bought two twins to replace the Queen bed that my dad had. And now to a room by myself.
Mom commented recently that when they went to the cafe for lunch, Dad commented, "I have never seen this room before, WHat is it"?" Mom commented to him," don't you remember, this is the cafe where we have had lunch many times before."
That is the nature of dementia that I am going to have to face head on. I never will know what will come upon me. Almost like as I sat next to the side of the porch in Maine listening to the surf pound its way through the chug hole on the edge of the coast. A chug sound came in random intervals making a rich and melodic sound.
I hope that dad remembers me when I visit and the joys that we used to have going on the Rascal W power boat going fishing and for long excursions along the coast of the Sheepscot Bay to our time rendevousing with the Victory Chimes as she set sail for the Windjammer days to the time that Dad, Randy and I journeyed on the Victory Chimes for an August weekend in Maine.
I am glad that on my March journey of this year that I had the opportunity to dive into Lisa Genova's book called, Still Alice, which is a fictional account of someone with alzheimers disease written from the perspective of the woman going through it. When I read it in the recliner which faced the ocean, I saw nuances of dad's behavior in how Lisa portrayed her character, Alice. It gave a better understanding of this illness as I also witnessed mom dealing with it with her own mom as well.
I find it reassuring at each of my journeys to the coast, i am prepared a little more for the struggles that our family faces and it provides a sense of comfort for me to know that just as Maine is a solid coast that has been etched at for centuries is still there, so it is with Mom and Dad. That they are still there.
A far way from when Dad and mom wore their hard hats inspecting the progress of their complex being built from the ground up.
Yet the stages that our family has gone through can be termed a sense of mourning what has been lost. Of lost memory, lost opportunities and lost hope at times. Yet, it provides for me a sense of preparation for being together and of drawing us close again.
Yet, I am thankful that Maine provides me a place to go and be with my parents. I often have commented of how I love being with them to see the view and spend time with them when I am visiting.
Yet, I need to put on some pearls and look intently into her face and hug her intently. Seeing the very essence of my family heritage in her spume that has been passed down onto me.