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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)

TITLE: Take Me Home
By terri tiffany


“Take me home,” he begs.

Every time I hear my father utter those words; my heart breaks. Sadness clings to me like day old rice when I think that my father can't recline in his own chair nor sleep in the bedroom he’s shared with my mother for over fifty years.

My father is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and like a thief in the night, this relentless disease has robbed him of his independence. A year ago, my mother made the agonizing decision to move him to a nursing home. His increasing confusion along with deteriorating health forced our family to agree he needed more care than my mother could offer.

Dad’s home is his castle. Like most men from his generation, he considers ownership a sign of prestige – proving he could provide for his family. As a child, I watched him tackle meticulous remodeling projects. Paneling replaced wallpaper – a carport materialized over a driveway – a bathroom appeared where once stood a closet. His improvements increased my pride not only in the place where I brought home friends but in my father, too.

Due to conflicting schedules, I had seen my father only once since his most recent illness and subsequent move to the facility. I feared my visit would be more difficult than the last because his demands to go home had increased alongside his dementia.

I worried how he would greet me. In his cubicle of a room, a shrunken version of the man who raised three daughters acknowledged me with a slight hug. I wanted to rush from the room but the duty to explain to my father why he could never return home fell on my shoulders.

His words came quickly.

“Why can’t I go home? I paid for it!”

Gnarled hands clenched in his lap while his jaw set as though prepared for battle. He viewed me as the enemy – but in reality, I was the daughter who was sad he was there and only wanted the best for both my parents. In that awful moment, I had become the person preventing him from rocking on his front porch - the person preventing him from soothing his sweet tooth with his hidden stash of candy bars - the person keeping him from enjoying ballgames on a Sunday afternoon.

I’d traveled two thousand miles to tell my father he could never go home, but all I really wanted to do was throw myself into his arms and beg his forgiveness. I wanted to take back my role as the daughter who brought him bread from the local deli –the daughter who beamed when he complimented me on my latest cooking disaster – and the daughter who helped him paint the garage one more time. I didn’t want to be the daughter who now had to tell him his disease had taken over his life.

As each word spilled from my mouth, his eyes clouded further. Once more Alzheimer’s cruel hand had robbed him – this time of his ability to fully understand the most important change in his life.

“I’ll call a lawyer.”

His fingers clutched his blanket in rhythmic clasps. Tears that were mirror images of my own welled in his eyes. The man, who proudly served in WWII, was now fighting his hardest battle yet – the right to live in his own home.

Everyone in the room knew he’d lost the war except him.

“We’ll help Mom take care of the house,” I promised. He turned his head and bit down on his lips.

“I want to go home,” he pleaded.

I bent down for a hug from a man who had lived his entire adulthood on the same street. Because of cruel fate, he would live the remainder of his life in a place he always feared.

“You are home Dad,” I whispered through my tears.

My husband drove me back to the house I grew up in. Memories of my father rushed back at me. His manicured shrubs greeted me as they had for decades. The pillows I quilted for a birthday present still cradled the imprint of his head.

Alzheimer’s stole my father’s ability to live in his home, but it didn’t rob my family of our memories. Someone once wrote ‘Home is where the Heart Is.’ I believe those words were meant for me because my heart will carry Dad’s memories forever.

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This article has been read 967 times
Member Comments
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Dara Sorensen08/02/07
This has to be the saddest piece I've read so far. I can feel the pain in the daughter's heart as if it were my own. Awesomely written ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/04/07
This so sad story is wonderfully written. It fits all the categories of a winner.
Lynda Schultz 08/05/07
My dad never knew that he wasn't home when we finally had to admit him to a nursing home — but we went through the guilt process anyway even without any recriminations from him. I can't imagine how hard the situation described here would be — truly sad. Well done.
Dee Yoder 08/05/07
I just came back today from visiting my Dad in his "home". His experience at the Nursing home hasn't been good. He still tries to smile, and let me know he loves me, but I long to see him the way he was, and to visit him at his own home. Very sad story because I know your pain so well.
Marilyn Schnepp 08/06/07
This is "sad personified"! Not long ago I wrote a similar version in "My Last Visit", which will tell you I know exactly how you feel! This is indeed a heartbreaker Big Time, but Very well done...and I was with you all the way through to the end; been there too...
Cynthia Hinkle08/06/07
The images tugged me, especially the one about rice,which makes me think you share my ethnic background. You show the fear, you show the tragedy. Sad, good images.
Lisa Holloway08/07/07
This is a very good fit for the topic and quite well written. I could easily feel the sadness--yours and your dad's.
Pat Guy 08/09/07
How tradically beautiful. Yours words speak for so many. May they comfort those who need to read this.

Truly beautiful.
Helen Dowd05/22/08
This is such a sad story, repeated over and over again by hundreds of caring children. I so well remember the last "empty" days of my dad, the dad who had been so active all his life, reduced to wringing hands and a bewildered face, a dad who read his Bible daily and constantly, but yet couldn't remember his name. I am so sad for this daughter who had to bear the bad news to her beloved dad....So well told! So touching to the emotions.