I should have visited my dad yesterday. That was the plan. He told people all day that his daughter was coming at 4:00. I didn't get there. Mother had a bad bout of vertigo and was afraid to get up and move. It was not fair to leave her alone in that state. But today she was feeling better, so off I went to visit my dad.
He greeted me warmly. He called me by name. I pulled up a chair, looked at his fingernails (he has been complaining because they were long), and pulled out the travel kit that holds my clippers, scissors, files and other paraphernalia for nail maintenance. He was pleased.
"How lucky I am," he said, "to have a sister who has all the equipment and the willingness to do this!" Sister???? I let it pass.
He is still pleased to share his new photo album with his friends at Oahu Care Facility. "It even has pictures of me when I was 3 years old." he tells them. "Don't you want to see?" He is also pleased with the cat photographs, recycled from last year's calendar featuring the Ka'a'awa Cats of the Chesney-Lind household. Nine kitty portraits overflow the bulletin board behind his head. People must be commenting. It makes him feel special. That makes him happy.
Then, out of the clear blue sky, he commented, "Tomorrow I am being beheaded."
My eyebrows must have gone clear to my hairline. "Excuse me?"
He repeated himself. Then it dawned on me. Tomorrow is haircut day. He has missed haircut day for the last 2 months. In December when I asked the staff why he had not been given his monthly haircut, I was told he "didn't feel like getting up."
I scolded him. "Next time they come and tell you it's time for a haircut, get out of bed and go. Your hair will be curling around the bottoms of your ears if you don't go this month!" I've repeated the direction twice since, on separate occasions. I have showed him on the calendar taped to his wardrobe door which Monday in January is Haircut Day. Apparently, this is a message he remembers. Tomorrow is indeed haircut day. Will he follow through? Will staff be sufficiently insistent? Will they remember their suggestion that he be the last in line and not brought in until the last possible moment so he does not have to wait?
You never know.
Give thanks for those moments when the dementia patient's memory finds something to hang on to. Don't forget to pray .....