Today I’m going to give you an excerpt from my book about my father. Hello Alzheimer’s Good Bye Dad" ISBN 1438278276 is a candid look at my father’s battle with Alzheimer’s. Yes I know there are many books on the market much like this one, but mine is different. I have caregiver tips throughout the book to help other families cope with the problems we faced.
The book is sold by me and Amazon. Also, the book can be found at Lemstone Christian Bookstore in Collins Road Plaza across from Linndale Mall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
You might be surprised if you knew how many people with Alzheimer’s are driving. In my father’s case, I knew I had to prevent him from driving even though he had renewed his driver’s license.
As with so many families, that didn’t stop me from feeling guilty for depriving him. My heart was feeling sorry for the father that was instead of seeing my father the man with diminished capacities.
The Friday Dad had to go back to see the license examiner I was scheduled to work at 2 P.M. I took Dad to town when the office opened at noon. He passed the examiner’s eye test this time with the doctor’s okay and his new glasses, but he still had to drive. There was a semi test scheduled ahead of Dad, and he had to wait. Afraid this would make me late for work, I took Dad with me down to Harold’s parents and asked to use the phone. Harold was off work with a bout of tendinitis. I called to see if he was up to coming in to wait with Dad until he took his driving test. Harold came, and I left for work in our car. Really I was glad to get out of there. I didn’t want to be there when Dad was told he couldn’t drive anymore. I knew it would break his heart to hear that.
When I got home from work that night I was in for a surprise. Harold told me that Dad had gotten his driver’s license renewed. I couldn’t believe it. The lady who rode with Dad came back just a little shaken up, sat down by Harold, and asked him if he had ridden with Dad recently. Harold told her no, because we always took them where they needed to go so Dad hadn’t had to drive lately. She said he was not very good at driving, but she would renew his license for a year with a 15 mile radius on it so Dad could only drive to Keystone or Belle Plaine. Harold said Dad seemed content with that. At least, he had his driver’s license. Fine, but we still had to worry that he’d take the car, and we knew it wasn’t safe for him to drive so Mom continued to keep the keys hid in her purse. When Dad asked for them, she told him Duane or I had the keys, and he could have them when we brought them back. That seem to be all right with him at the moment.
When Mom mentioned that Dad had been looking for the keys, I asked him where he wanted to go, and he said, "No where right now." He never wanted to go anywhere, and I knew that. At least not with Mom and me. I started asking him if he’d like to go with us when we went shopping just to keep him realizing that he had a way to go if he wanted it. I imagine that he looked for the keys to the car when we were gone just like he hunted for his pipes when Mom hid them, because he still wanted to drive himself somewhere just like he always had.
Often, Dad walked down to the garage to check to see if the car was there, spent time sitting behind the wheel, or looking under the hood. He was always anxious about his most important possession. Maybe he was afraid the "bunch up north" was going to take his car like they took his guns.
The next year in October when it came time to renew Dad’s driver license, he had bronchitis. His memory had slipped a little more so he didn’t remember about his license, and I thought that was a good thing. We’d let it expire and not say anything. After all, he wasn’t going to get his car keys back so we could just let him forget about the time going by to renew his driver’s license. Wrong! One day, Mom wasn’t in the house, and the phone rang. Dad rarely ever answered the phone, because he hated talking on the it. Usually he’d say he didn’t hear well enough, and later on, he either slept though the rings or moved too slow to get to the phone before the caller hung up. Once in a rare while, he’d answer when I called. He’d talk okay to me, but he’d never deliver my messages to Mom. He always forgot.
This was one call he didn’t forget for a long time. It was the Iowa Department of Transportation calling to tell him that his driver license had expired, and he needed to send in his license by mail.
Dad took the call hard. He couldn’t understand how the government could take away his license when he had been a perfect driver. It didn’t matter that he never drove anymore, but this was just one more thing taken away from him. Mom said he sat down and cried. I never saw my dad cry. Since then I have seen people with Alzheimer’s disease cry for what seems like no reason at all, and I think of my dad. Maybe these people don’t remember the reason why they are crying, but they had a reason, too.