How Did Daddy Know?
Another Christmas has passed in my life; that always starts me thinking about Christmases as a little girl when the world to me was full of promise. Memories are comforting especially when your Mom has passed away and your Dad has been diagnosed with dementia.
One Christmas that sticks out in my mind was when I was about five or six years old; my older sister Valerie, twelve or thirteen and my younger sister, Phyllis was just a baby maybe one or two years old. My parents were going out probably to a Knights of Columbus Christmas party and they were all dressed up. I can still see my Mom in beautiful gold colored cocktail dress, pill box hat, black velvet coat with three- quarter inch sleeves and white kid gloves; Dad in a suit and tie with a black coat.
Earlier in the day, Dad had gotten all the Christmas decorations out of the basement. While they were gone we were to decorate the tree and the house. We had a green artificial tree probably about seven feet tall. My parents left and Valerie and I got to work. Phyllis sat on the couch and watched. For some reason during the time we decorated the tree it kept falling down. Naturally the lights and Christmas balls were on it and these were the old big kind. This Christmas was in the mid sixties. Valerie would pick the tree up all the while telling me “Don’t tell Daddy”. She would get out the vacuum and clean it all up, we would start decorating again and the tree would fall again. This must have happened about three times. Every time it happened Phyllis would just laugh, Valerie would scramble for the vacuum and I would help as best I could. Finally it seemed the tree was stable and was completely decorated and looked beautiful. Of course it did, I was a little girl who still believed in Santa Claus and all the wonder of Christmas, and just beginning to understand what Christmas really meant.
Valerie cautioned me again not to say anything to Mom or Dad about the tree falling. I was determined not to, mainly to please my big sister. Valerie and I heard our parents walking up the stairs; we lived on the third floor of a brownstone house in Brooklyn. We stood on either side of our beautifully decorated Christmas tree and were very proud of ourselves. Mom and Dad stood at the doorway of the living room about ten feet away from the tree. The first words out of my Dad’s mouth were “How many times did the tree fall down Valerie?” I was in shock and blurted out “How does Daddy know the tree fell down?”
As my father is getting worse with dementia I relive this moment a lot and other moments like it. When I was growing up it seemed that Daddy knew things without having to tell him. He does not have Alzheimer’s disease as he knows who all of us are, but he rambles on and does not make sense. He asks for things he can’t have anymore, the car, living on his own, and getting a job.
When he was first diagnosed with dementia and not medicated he was very agitated and I was the source of all that was wrong. His income was limited however we were able to find a facility that was reasonable. At first he didn’t have much after the monthly bill was paid but when he finally received Medicaid his finances were a little better.
I am grateful that he still knows who his children are and his grandchildren and for the memories I have of a Daddy who knew everything when I was a little girl.