Father’s Day with Dementia: A Letter

Dad on Father's Day
Dad 6 years ago

Hi Dad,

Today I bought you a Father’s Day card.  I guess I bought it more for me than for you.  You won’t be able to read it and you may not even open your eyes to see it, or me.

It’s been a rough year as dementia continues to consume more and more of you.  In just a short time, you’ve forgotten so many basic things and so many people dear to you. You can no longer even form a complete sentence, except for one:

I love you.

Yesterday, I visited you in the rehab center where you continue to regain your strength further zapped by pneumonia. You were tired, having struggled through the night in foreign surroundings.  You barely greeted me, but about an hour into my visit, I brought your breakfast tray to you.

Perhaps the smell of eggs and ham aroused your senses, because when I asked you if you were hungry, I got an emphatic, “Yes!”  I quickly raised the front of your hospital bed to get you into a position to eat without aspirating your food or drink (the suspected cause for your pneumonia).  You ate eagerly, sometimes reminding me of a little bird, its eager little mouth ready to accept nourishment. However, your eyes remained closed while you ate.

At one point, I kissed your forehead and said, “I love you, Dad.”  You opened your eyes, looked directly at me and clearly said:

I love you, too.

But just as quickly as you became cogent, in a flash you were gone again, eyes closed, mouth open for the next spoonful of egg.

So, this Father’s Day, I will bring you a card.  But it will be I who will be eager for the gift – those three little words.

I love you, Dad,

Your loving and grateful daughter





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