I have not spent a Christmas with him since I was very small, and even then I don’t remember much either to be honest.
One of the things I do remember is taking him a Christmas dinner on boxing day and that was about it.
Now before my Dad got his diagnosis, he volunteered at a placed called The Misson. I am not sure how to describe it as a place, but it does amazing work for the poor and homeless in Birkenhead and is very close to my heart. He would drive the van and pick up donations or help drop them off to people and families who need anything really. Along with that, he would pick up people for their big Christmas meal, with something like 200 people that go (I think) down in the rugby club or somewhere similar.
That was his community; he loved it, he was social, had value and got a huge social Christmas meal with all his friends. Which if I am honest I may be a little jealous off ;). It wasn’t all rosy mind you (when is it ever, let’s be honest) but it gave me peace that he was having a great time, so I didn’t feel the need to get involved. And I just hop around great family and friends for my Christmas.
But this year I want to spend some time with him, and it will be our first proper Christmas together since I was maybe 7?
What am I expecting?
I feel like I have a good handle on what his moods can be like, we can squeeze a nap in there too, but other than what he is usually like, I don’t know how Alzheimer’s is going to play its part.
We have never done presents either. I remember trying to get him things for Father day and Christmas and just struggled a bit, he didn’t even seem to care really, he doesn’t like the idea of being made a fuss of. But I always know if there is anything I needed in the year, he was my go-to for anything. So I don’t need birthday or Christmas presents as I get everything need and more throughout the year, and Christmas is so much more than just the presents.
So I have bought him some CDs in the hope he can have some variety of music to listen to, and with four complications of 5 CDs each, there should be some music he likes that will stick. And I will make sure to open something with him, so it’s not awkward and makes it a little more Christmasy.
I know he is better in the morning and grumpier in the afternoon/evening (who isn’t). And it’s been a long time since I spent four days consecutive with him. I want to go to church with him if I can, and just see what he is like an how things have changed over a more extended period. He always tries to shoo me home back to London whenever I arrive, but in staying in the same village, he might be a bit calmer about it all.
I think I am going to be shocked, or maybe just more things revealed to me about either how good or bad his memory, functions, or moods are. I will try and film as much as I can, but I still want to make my own very natural memories with him, I never want to force anything and make things uncomfortable.
The big question is will he know me and my relevance?
My guess is he will know my name (sometimes), and he probably won’t know I am his daughter (most of the time). And of course, part of me wants to ask him these questions, get it on camera, and be up front like ‘Do you know my name? Do you know who I am?’ But that’s just the morbid part of me that like the idea of picking at scabs and just seeing what happens, and it just makes things worse. But that would only be forced, and ignorance is bliss, right?
So wish me luck! If anyone has any ideas of activities or things we can do, I have not planned the time at all; I would just be happy even being in his company for the holidays, so let’s see how we go.
If anyone who reads this knows him, and wants to wish him a Merry Christmas I would be more than happy to pass the message along, and even try and do a little video message for you! Now that would be interesting …