Not even 


and stones

can shore up a hillside



and water

conspire against them.


the hillside crumbles around us
the hillside crumbles around us

As some of you know, I have been primary medical and personal liaison for my almost 93 year old father since my mother’s death three and a half years ago. During this time, my siblings and I came to the realization that he has a form of dementia and last year we put him into a nursing home where he would get really good care. He continued to be as independent as possible, going out to lunch and dinner, going out to concerts and staying as active as he possibly could. Recently, a combination of physical and mental changes has caused his caregivers to limit the way he lives his life, purely for safety reasons. He has balked, he has cursed, he has threatened to sue and he has very clearly told me to get out of his life. Life has never been easy with this man but I finally hit the wall, so to speak, and am, for the moment, relinquishing my role in his life to one of my sisters. My hope is that my own life will stop being pulled down the hill by the force of his gravity and my tears. 

For some reason this picture spoke to me tonight. Being a caregiver, even one that is not on the front line, is so very tough, it takes a very large toll on one’s well-being. I am hoping to patch up the hillside of my life and strengthen it so that it can withstand further assaults. We’ll see if I am successful.

12 thoughts on “rocky

  1. A great photo and no wonder the image speaks to you. The situation with your father must be dreadfully hard for you all. Many years ago, when I was still in my 20s, a favourite great- aunt accused me of stealing her transistor radio. She was very angry with me. I didn’t realise at the time that her words came from a mind addled by alcohol and dementia. I was simply dumbfounded by the accusation, and the words, even though I understand them now, still hurt. More than that, however, is the lingering sadness that I, the loving great-niece, became a monster in the eyes of my great-aunt. Sending hugs for your well-being and restoration.

    1. I can feel your shock from way-back-when. It is hard to comprehend the damage alcohol and dementia can do to the brain.
      If it was just dementia that caused this behavior with my dad I might find it a tad bit easier to find the compassion, however he has always been somewhat of an asshole and some of this goes waaaaaay back, at least for me. So I am taking a break to recuperate and try to heal some of those old wounds before they eat me up. Thanks for the hugs!

  2. Having had to deal with a father with dementia, I can relate somewhat to what you’re going through. My heart goes out to you. You are right, maybe it is time to step back and let someone else take over the front line. You can effectively work behind the scenes, so to speak, staying out of Dad’s line of sight so as to not upset him further. The pain of having a loved one who doesn’t recognize you or what you are trying to do is incredible. We need to keep in mind is that they no longer have the capacity to think clearly at all times and that it is frustrating, confusing and scary for them–beyond what we can imagine.

  3. Hello,

    I just picked up on your blog via the WordPress reader and linked to you from my dementia-related site (

    God knows, I know how you feel, and would relinquish the carer role myself (to my MIL) if I could. A lot of people won’t understand your decision, I’m sure, but then they haven’t been in the same soul-destroying position, or seen what dementia does to a person and all around them.

    Look forward to reading more of your writings in the future…

    DG x

    1. Thank you so much for the empathy. I feel for you and your husband. It is hard to watch dementia, I look at it more as a progressive brain damage. I had no idea that it was about more than memory loss until I identified and researched what dad was going through. We are fortunate that he can afford really good care but even that doesn’t help when he gets belligerent.
      Good luck with your MIL and find ways to regenerate even if it’s on a small scale…

  4. Here’s to your recuperation and regeneration! It would be no earthly use to burn yourself out because of “oughts” and “shoulds” and a sense of duty……it’s so hard to process real grief at the ‘passing’ of the father you knew, and sadness that there will never be resolution of possible conflicts between you in the past…whilst he is still alive.
    The one thing you really do NOT need is to feel guilty….we can all be faced with seemingly impossible decisions to make, and nobody can gainsay your decision. I’m sure you can play a worthwhile role in supporting your sisters as they step up to the plate……if you don’t protect your own Self you won’t be a Self for them to relate to.
    I was living in Ireland when my adoptive mother started going downhill, in England, (not sure if diagnosis was senility, dementia or alzheimers…) In truth, my relationship with her had never been an easy one, we had made some resolution of past conflicts, but there was relief that her eldest (‘true’) daughter was there to take most of the load….with me having a geographical ‘excuse’. Maybe it would have been “good” to have been able to do more, but I’m reasonably sanguine about just not being able to.
    Have you come across a book called ‘Keeper’, by Andrea Gillies? She looked after her parents in law, (along with husband, three children, livestock, B&B business, and writing career..!), and cared for the MiL in the middle stages of Alzheimers…whilst desperately researching what might lie ahead in the development of her condition…’s a searingly honest book, informative, and often it’s downright hilarious! One of the few books that i will re-read….and highly recommend.
    Big Hugs to You!

    1. You have hit the nail on the head…thank you for all your words. I will look for the book, but I may wait for a while to read it until I feel a little less like a wrung out towel. Right now, guilt is not part of the equation, I think it is the reason I hung on so long though. I am definitely doing the grieving part…

      1. Looking for the book got me reading it again, and remembering how I had first read (devoured!) it in only three days….she’s an excellent writer. One half-sentence leaps to mind: “This book has turned out to be as much about the unravelling of a carer as it is about the person being cared for….”
        Go easy on yourself……we can’t have you unravelling too!

        1. The book is in our library, I will get it out the next time I am there. It is a bit frustrating because Alzheimers has gotten a lot of publicity but most people don’t know that there are varying degrees of dementia. My dad does not have Alzheimer’s but he is definitely having to deal with the loss of brain function that affects memory, behavior, and physical functioning.
          I think the only unraveling that I will do is with my sculptures if they are going in the wrong direction!!!

  5. Yes, there are many forms of brain deterioration, and differing degrees of awareness and distress in the sufferers….whole families can suffer the distress too. I look forward to hearing what you think of the book, as and when….keep going with the sculpture, ravelled or not! x

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