HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, EVERYONE! PHILLIP TOLEDANO: DAYS WITH MY FATHERQUOTE:
My Mum died suddenly on September 4th, 2006.
Suddenly, I found myself taking care of my 97-year-old father who was suffering from dementia. I was overwhelmed and shocked -- shocked at my mum's death and shocked at my father's mental state.
He didn't have Alzheimer's, but he had no short-term memory and was often lost. I had never realized how much my mother had been shielding me the last few years.
I took him to her funeral, but when we got home, he'd ask me every 20 minutes where my mother was. I'd explain carefully that she died.
This was shocking news to him.
Why had no one told him?
Why hadn't I taken him to the funeral?
Why hadn't he visited her in the hospital?
He had no memory of these events.
After a while, I realized I couldn't keep telling him that his wife had died. He didn't remember, and it was killing both of us to re-live her death constantly.
I decided that my job as his son was to make whatever time he had left as happy as possible. So I made up a story that was less excruciating to both of us. I said that mum had gone to Paris to take care of her sick brother. And that's where she remained, for the next three years.
After the first year of taking care of my dad, I began taking photos and writing. My mother had died so suddenly, and there were so many things that I wished I had asked her. So many conversations I wish I'd had. I didn't want to make that mistake again. I wanted to record everything, before my father died. To document the love between us, and by reflection, the love we both had for my mother.
I wanted to remember my father's stories, and how he told them; his eyes, right before he said something funny; his pink scalp shining through his white hair in the afternoon sun; and the sound of his voice, singing, as I made him scrambled eggs in the kitchen.
What emerged was not a story of death, but a story of life. Our life together.
MORE AT THE LINK