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.

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    Eric Radcliffe
    Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
    3 years ago

    I sat with you, I felt the sadness and anxiety. I wanted to be there for you. You did what all writers try to do – that is to connect with the reader. It’s a terrible disease that steals, but it can never steal the love that has been given and shared over the years – that’s what brings you back each time you visit. That’s the real message I find in… Read more »

    Katerina Bizirtsaki
    Katerina Bizirtsaki(@katerina-bizirtsaki)
    3 years ago

    The story touched me with its bittersweet example of love. The end sends chills down my spine no matter how many times I read it. Incredible job!

    musing mind
    musing mind(@musing-mind)
    3 years ago

    Your story describes how important it is for us to spend time with our aging parents. The moments you have described with the father are precious.

    Leena Auckel
    Leena Auckel(@leena-auckel)
    3 years ago

    I loved your story. You described how dementia changed his life in a gripping manner. A nice read.

    Sandra James
    Sandra James(@sandra-james)
    3 years ago

    Melissa, you have depicted dementia and the difficulties families go through perfectly. My mother is in care with Alzheimer’s and I know well the sadness of wondering where she went to and the joy of those brief moments when she seems to return. It is hard to explain it to others who have no experience with dementia but your story portrays all the sadness and then comes to a heartwarming conclusion. I… Read more »

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    2 years ago

    This story moves me and it makes me emotional. It penetrated my heart. Good job. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    Reply to  Melissa Taggart
    2 years ago

    Melissa, yes it is very hard but the children must be thankful for they still have a chance to let their sick parents feel their love and care.

    Julie Harris
    Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
    2 years ago

    Melissa, this is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story. You approached the difficult topic with sensitivity and caring.

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