An older woman with her arm around a younger woman look out an open window. The curtains blow around them from the breeze.

Grief Has No Timeline: Remembering My Dad on His Birthday

Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 89 years old. Dad passed from Alzheimer’s a little over two years ago. It still hurts. I still miss him. I didn’t think I’d still be grieving although I knew from what I have read in the past, grief has no timeline.

The day before my dad's birthday, I found myself in tears. I didn’t expect it. Again. On occasion, the grief sneaks up on me. It always surprises me. In my head, I know it shouldn’t surprise me. But it does. I let the grief in, I go with it.

I wanted to talk to my mom. I wanted to know how she was doing. I called her. Most of the calls with Mom are relatively short. She’s doing good. She went out to get groceries. No, she didn’t wear gloves. No, she didn’t wear a mask. “Mom...Don’t worry. I’m not getting sick”. This phone call was different.

Remembering our loved ones with Alzheimer's

Mom seemed a bit surprised that I was calling not only on, but because of, Dad’s birthday. Maybe she thought I would forget when his birthday was because my life is very busy right now. I didn’t. I never will. It’s important to remember birthdays. They are a return to the celebration of life. I didn't just want to know, I needed to know, how Mom was doing.

Dad was the love of her life. They met at a local dance when they were both 22 yrs old. He was with his best friend Gord. She was with her sister-in-law, Dorothy. From that point on, it was Andy and Jean. They got married and had 3 kids, I was the youngest. They had a great life together. They were married for 65 years. 65 years! And Mom misses him. I do too.

Checking in on our loved ones who lost someone

How was Mom feeling? I asked her. She said she didn’t sleep well the night before. She kept waking up thinking of him. Around 4am, she couldn’t get back to sleep. Her day began. She was trying to distract herself. He was in her thoughts. Mom told me she wakes up some nights thinking he’s still in bed beside her. She said she gets up to use the bathroom and realizes he’s not there. It hurts.

The more I thought about this, it’s like someone losing a limb. I mean no disrespect to anyone who has lost a limb. Dad and Mom were always together. For 65 years. I think my mom will always think Dad is still there beside her. I know she wishes he was. Alzheimer’s slowly took him away from her. She never imagined she would lose him like this.

Mom is more about small talk with her children. She feels if she says too much then she will burden us. Make us worry. She doesn’t see the difference between us caring about her, not worrying about her. Oh I know we worry sometimes. She lives alone in the home they lived together in. The home they raised us in. I know she feels lonely without him. She told me that. I felt so honoured she talked to me about how she was feeling.

As I have written before, each of us deals with our grief differently. Mom deals with her grief quietly. Privately. I deal with mine openly. Either is ok. Both ways are good. I’m glad we can meet on this level to be supportive of one another. Alzheimer’s takes life away. Slowly. Painfully. For all of us to cope, we have to let the grief in. Mom does. I do.

Happy Birthday, Dad. We miss you. We love you. We always will.

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