It was time again to visit my father at Cornerstone Home. He had been a patient here for seven years; his quick deterioration meant I needed help. Lewy body dementia stole all his prized memories, leaving behind well-formed hallucinations and a long trail of delusions. A once soft-spoken man, now prone to fits of anger. They provided the best care and dignity to my father here; for that I would always be grateful. Although I regretfully admitted coming here is something I no longer wanted to do – his body remains here but his mind could no longer be found.
Walking into the well-lit room I noticed the large picture window. The sun spilled through it onto my father. His hair once black as night, now grey with tinted blue hues. Carrying a large conch shell under my arm, I was digging extra deep in my near-emptied optimism barrel. Hopefully, this would jog some hidden memory tucked away safe in his hippocampus. I laid the conch gingerly on the glass coffee table directly in his view.
I sat down beside him focusing on his eyes as I always had done. He had to be in there somewhere. Emotions soon overcame me. How would I ever reach him? As a young child my dad, a marine biologist, would take me on the beach to pick sea glass. We would hunt for shells, and lovingly he referred to me as princess. As a young girl I knew him to be the king of kings. I never dreamt that one day he would be uncrowned. Now he doesn’t know his own daughter.
Disheartened, my visit now over, it is time to gather my things. I unexpectedly heard a soft voice; it was dad. He said, “Genie, listen to the shell and you’ll always hear the ocean”. Happiness washed away my sadness. Dad did not disappear. That day I decided, I understood, he had just gone for an extended beach vacation. It is where he had been all along. And there he would always be king.