As a child, my own father always seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to our safety and welfare. When I was 6, I fell off my bike and broke my arm. Dad felt that something was wrong. He found me several blocks from the house and took me to the hospital. He took care of me and my brother and sister when we were sick. He loved soothing our aches and sniffles with his never-the-same-twice homemade soup, made by throwing just about any leftovers into the pot.
Although my father is an educated man with a PhD in psychology, he always had a child-like sense of fun and mischievousness. He loved amusement park rides, especially go carts and bumper cars. Once he even got kicked off the go cart track for bumping into his kids!
Through his instincts and exploits, my father taught me how to care for people, how to take chances and how to enjoy every minute on this earth.
Dad is 86 now and he's had dementia for more than 10 years. He's been living in a nursing home for the past five years. During that time, he has continued to teach me about life. Dad's ability to express love and contentment, despite his limitations, is a testament to his connection to family. Certainly, it's a tribute to my mother, whose daily and engaging visits have been life sustaining. But I know that somewhere inside, he still has that sixth sense about my well-being and happiness. He shows it through his sense of humor and the mischievous twinkle in his eye. On a given day, he may not remember my name, but he knows we're connected.
My father also displays an impressive level of equanimity and contentment about life, despite his dementia.
To read the rest of this post by Jody Gastfriend, LICSW, check out her blog at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jody-gastfriend/fathers-day_b_1596872.html