Bedlam

Photo of my dad with his sculptures, 1990’s

Photo of my dad with his sculptures, 1990’s

My dad was was a social worker before he went into carpentry. He work with troubled youth, senior citizens, and in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. His patients were the bedtime stories of my youth.

The nurses at my dad's new facility say he reminds them of a social worker still. He says things like don't let your mother mood go down with the sun and the Isak Dinesen quote, The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.

He calls me before 7 am to tell me there were people screaming and banging on the walls of his room all night. That nurses came into his room scolding him and carrying babies. I race to the center, crying the whole way, and sitting on the side of the bed he says, but come to think of it these things happen at home, too.

He says he feels like he’s in a college dorm, a correctional facility. He says he feels like he's in Bedlam. As I walk with him through the halls, a woman screams I HATE YOU MOTHER again and again. It’s like the movie Mommy Dearest my dad says and my heart wrenches like a wet sponge. She’s trapped in a nightmare and now it seems, so is he.

Last night after a 20 minute phone call with a med tech, I discover that his primary care physician has written his med list wrong. I want to scream with rage. I want to slam heads. I'm rarely violent but I feel violent now. Can't they see that this is my dad?

Over the last few weeks I have felt enfolded in a bubble wrap of grace. I have felt God’s hand holding me up. I have also felt terror, heart ache and despair. I’m trying to forgive human error. I’m trying to forgive the Lewy Body Dementia invading my father’s brain. I’m trying to forgive his the new place he has to live away from his woodshop and animals and land. But I'm not at the acceptance stage yet. I don’t even know if I’m close.

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Valley HaggardComment