Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sparky

You've played with this doggie since you were six weeks 
Grandma enjoying some time with her grandson and Sparky
Dear JJ,

Sparky died the other day, and it made you sad. The little dog had lived 14 years as grandma's favorite companion.

He first sniffed you when you were six weeks old, after your first trip on an airplane.

When we would go to see grandma and grandpa you would sit on the floor, wait for him to come to you, and play.

He was grandma's companion, and even as she sinks into dementia she misses Sparky.

As a little boy you are seeing dementia and death. Your answer was to want to get flowers.  Two sets, one for grandma and one for us- because we all miss Sparky.

Sometimes you amaze me,

Love,

Dad

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Being A Boy Around Dementia

Dear JJ,

As my mom descends into dementia it isn't easy being around her. She has lost what little patience she ever had. On one hand she relates how she was raised to sit still and let adults talk, and how oppressive that was. At least she said that during her days when her mind worked better.

Today she wants you to sit still so she can talk, but her talk is garbled. It is tough to see that. It is tough for me to see that, but I had to decide to either try to make you sit still or to let you be just who you are.

You have to be you, son. And I have to be your dad. It is ok to see that my mom isn't who she was, and I am sorry you have to see this.


I love you son - keep chasing birds, climbing trees, and laughing. It is the light of my life.  It would be the light of her life also - as it was when she was well, and the few times now when her mind is clear.

Love,

Dad
She still likes her sweets

There is a delight in being a little boy

And I realized I never want this to change

Monday, February 29, 2016

My brother Erick

Dear JJ,

It is February 29th, and this would be your uncle Erick's birthday.  Erick was my closest oldest brother in age, but sadly he was born with such severe mental retardation that he was institutionalized from a few months of age.

I wrote about him shortly after he died. That link is here.

So today a bit of me feels the loss.

Love,

Dad
Eric, Jimmy, and Ron - my three brothers

Monday, February 22, 2016

In Dementia You Brighten Her Day

Dear JJ,

I don't know how much you will remember Grandma Simpson, my mom.  Sadly she is sliding more into dementia, having more difficulty even knowing where she is.

The decision to move her to a memory care center and away from her husband, my dad, of 67 years is hard to imagine. But she needs the extra care, and my father who has been faithfully taking care of her most personal needs has to have a break.

But one thing brightens her day - and that is you.

On Valentine's Day we went there to see her, and even though she had been in a wheelchair and sleeping, she saw you and smiled. Remarked about your curly hair. And sprung out of her chair to walk us out to the car when we went home - with a spring in her step.

You are her only grandchild. And even when she was in the hospital a few weeks ago after falling and breaking her wrist she was happy to hear that Grandpa Simpson was at our house with you. She said, "Oh, he needs some more grandpa time."

You make all of our lives happier, son.  You have no idea.
Six Years Ago Mom and Dad Frame Our Wedding
Even though her mind is going, she still has one of the finest palates I have known - skeptical about a glass of Silver Oak - she did like it ultimately 

Mom enjoying a rare glass of wine at our house

Friday, January 22, 2016

First Acceptance

Your Pre-School. Every Thursday I get to take you there - it is "Daddy's Day."

Still my favorite helper in the kitchen

Your Christmas concert - you have the sweetest voice

Dear JJ,

Your mom is thrilled - you were accepted to a charter school run by Great Hearts. It is a good school, and your buddy from pre-school, Liam, is there.

Your mom and I then began the process of wondering - how will you do, is it the right fit, and all of those questions that our parents never had about our school because there was not a choice.

But then I had a bit of sadness. You are growing up son. They say that by the time you are 18 years old you will have spent 90 per cent of the time with us that you will spend in our lives.

The other day I had to spend eight hours in the hospital ER with my mom, Grandma Simpson. She had fallen and broken a wrist.  On one hand I was a bit upset that the hospital ER was so inefficient at discharging her. Then I remembered that I have spent probably 98% of the time I will ever spend with my mom.  During those eight hours my mom smiled, was lucid, was happy, and it was good to be her son and enjoy her company during that time.

Right now I can't wait to get home from my business trip and give you a big hug. I'm glad you're my son, and glad you came into our lives.

Love,

Dad

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We will always be your mom and dad

Mom and dad at our house

Dear JJ,

Over the past month we were able to get my mom and dad to move to Phoenix to be closer to us. It is never easy but among the lessons I learned was this:

Mom and Dad are still mom and dad.

I took a tumble just outside their apartment and hobbled in. Mom hugged me, sat me down and asked if I needed anything.  My dad said he had some ibuprofen. Both with concerned looks, both instantly became the mom and dad of a little boy of theirs.

We love you son - I hope to see you grow up - but no matter how old you will be, if something happens we will still be mom and dad. We will still want to help you, comfort you.  It is our nature.

Love,

Dad


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My art has changed

Dear JJ,

A funny thing has happened to my walls.  I use to get art - things that other people created that reminded me of Alaska or sometimes photographs that I took - like the bears. But now I noticed my art has changed.

What is important to me are photographs of family.

Your mom brought a something that was framed to my office and it sat in the wrapping paper for some time.  Finally I opened it.  There it was - a painting of my son! I took down some piece of old Alaskan Art and replaced it with the picture of you.

Photos of my son - my favorite artwork.

Love,

Dad
Little did I know this was wrapped up
Replacing this old Alaskan carved art- you are much better!

What is a museum piece without a photo of you photographing it?

Everyone can go to the best restaurant in London, but how many can take a photo of your beautiful mom in front of it?