My Father

Feb 6, 2015
124
Central Ohio, USA
Andrew
My father, Leo, has always been a good man. He worked his hardest to make sure that all 9 of us (him and my mom plus 7 kids) wanted for nothing. By wanting for nothing that was a warm bed in the winter, plenty of food and the proper clothes for every season.

We grew up poor in cash, but never in love and the things that mattered.

After graduating high school, he went to work at his brothers shoe repair shop. There he would help fix soles and heals. They were so good with leather that they could repair or mend just about anything. He would eventually marry my mother in 1960 and they would have their first child in 1962. That was my brother. A little over a year later and my first sister Shirley was born. The current apartment they were in was too small, so they started looking for houses and my father started looking for another job. The shoe repair business was not pulling in enough money to support the enlarging family.

My dad always being good with his hands, got a job working in the maintenance department of the local hospital. He did everything there from electrical to plumbing as well as maintain the boilers. He even helped test new equipment there. This image below was from an article that a local newspaper had covered. I believe this was back in 1968. He was 34 years old at the time.



He worked that job, would help raise 5 more kids, me being the last one, born in 1974.

Unfortunately, none of his handyman skills translated over to me. I was always drawn toward technology and dove headlong into IT. I got my BS in Computer Information Systems in 1996 and have been doing that ever since.
Because of the hospital my father worked at at his ability to be very frugal with his money and investments, he was able to retire early, at 62.

I went to college and that took me over 6 hours away from them. I found my place in the world, started my own family and have done my best to remember all the lessons that he has ever taught me. I go back and i visit himand my mom almost every year.

Back in 2011, I took my Nikon D50, Tamron 17-50/2.8 and my new to me Nikon SB-28 and umbrella box and asked to do portraits of my parents. 2011 was not my greatest year for off camera flash, but here is my dad, none the less. Out back by his garage.
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He is 85 now. We have known for a long time that dementia runs in his side of the family and we started seeing some signs of it in him a few years ago. I don't think it helps that he has been living with diabetes for 40+ years.
My mom did her best to take care of him at home for as long as she could. That little lady is only 5'2" and 115 lbs. My dad is 6'2" and 225 lbs. When he started needing a lot of assitance for basic daily functions, she could no longer care for him at home safely.

He did have a couple of tumbles due to his legs giving out. We all knew that he needed to go into an assisted living facility.

The dementia is progressing, about the rate we had expected it to. He is no longer able to walk and uses a wheel chair full time. Diabetic nerve pain is also taking its toll on his legs, shoulders and arms. The facility we found for him is fantastic. They take great care of him and make sure that his diabetes is under control, he is fed and taken care of medically. They have an activities room and a TV room and a nice outside courtyard for visits.

My wife and I went to visit him and I took along my Fuji XPro-2 and some primes. I wasn't sure how that was going to go given his mental state. I figured I'd try and get some pictures of him and if he didn't respond well, I'd just put it away. He can get easily agitated but we know his triggers pretty well. No loud noises or fast movements. He is at a stage now where he is lucid and aware some of the time and other times he "checks out" for a bit or just nods off to sleep.

My mom goes up and sits with him every week and helps him with his lunch or dinner. He really loves carbonated drinks! He calls it beer, lol. Some of the other residents there call him "Mr. Bubbles" because he always wants something fizzy to drink.
I though the hardest thing would be to see him how he is now and remembering how he used to be. Oddly for me, that is not the case. Since I know he is being taken care of and his needs are being met by a quality care facility, we are doing all we can for him right now. We visit and love on him how we always have and just make sure he is as comfortable as we can make him.

I love my dad. :)

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The 2 images above, that is my mom, Jean. She is helping him with his afternoon snack.

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My dad loves his facial hair, but we had the nursing unit make him an appointment with the barber. The men in our family can't stand to have our mustache hair in our mouths! :)

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Here, he nodded off for a quick nap while we were talking.

I'm honestly not looking for sympathy or anything else out of this. Just wanted to share and say that I never really understood what dementia is or how it affects you and the family until it is involved with someone you love. It also gives me pause for thought on my own future. Since this is something that runs in the family, I can better prepare my own family for this potential inevitable waning years of life.
 
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jyc860923

Veteran
Aug 29, 2018
104
Shenyang, China
贾一川
The photos are invaluable and thanks for sharing the story.

Dementia is cruel, I fear that for my family every time they forget something. It'll be the first thing on my list to cure if I ever met the genie that grants people three wishes.
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
Dementia is slowly turning my father into a complete stranger. It's heartbreaking to watch....mostly the effect that it has on my mom. He's reasonably oblivious to it all. But she's a touch old coot, and fights getting help at almost every chance. A couple months back she surprised me by letting me know that they are on a waiting list to buy a place in a new construction at a remarkable senior living facility. She seems fairly oblivious that there is a two year wait for the construction and there is clearly no way that she will be able to take care of him for that long. But things are moving in the right direction.

I've noticed odd memory patterns in myself recently.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful photos and the story. I hope for the best for your parents and you and your family.
 
Feb 6, 2015
124
Central Ohio, USA
Andrew
Thank you all for taking the time to read and to respond.

@Luke my mom is pretty much the same, but the rest of us talked to her about the help he'd need. It is not an easy process, getting the funding together, all the paperwork, red tape and bureaucracy. She got through it though. The final straws were when she realized she could not help him if he fell and when he got an infection and needed to stay in the hospital for a spell, he got combative and she realized that even in his condition, if he got combative with her she wouldn't be able to handle that. She is 76 and in good health considering...but still no match for him physically.

We are still looking for something closer to my mother's home. Right now, the drive from her house to him is 45 minutes. The issue is not finding a quality facility closer, but finding one that has an opening. As with most things that are medical, there is a lack of facility and staffing, and no one wants to be in a place where they cannot be cared for because there are not enough people to run the facility.
 

davect01

Hall of Famer
The end of life can be glorious and tragic all in one and it is important to feel your feelings.

My father and grandfather had Parkinson's and watching them go from strong, able, independent men into stuck into a bed and unable to feed themselves was tough.


Bless you and your family.
 

Ripleysbaby

supernatural anesthetist
Sep 9, 2011
123
Cumbria UK
Garry
Great set of photographs. True life in all its glory and sadness. Thank you for sharing these intimate photos.
My father is also suffering . He is still sharp as a knife but the amount of morphine he is on you would think he has dementia . Nothing prepares you for the things that go along with old age. But somehow we cope.
I wish you and your dad the very best. You are not alone in your sadness.
Dad
by Garry, on Flickr
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
My Dad went back to school for his PhD at age 51- by 70, Alzheimer's had him. Much of this was attributed to medications for heart problems.
We had a good last Christmas together, he would phase in and out, mistook me for his younger brother- then shook himself back to the present.
That was almost 30 years ago. You never forget, your parents become part of you.
 

Antonio Correia

Regular
Apr 6, 2018
104
Setúbal - Portugal
Antonio Correia
Thank you for sharing the story of your father and your own with all of us. Touching !
The photos are an additional to the story. Well done.
Perhaps you could make them more dramatic controlling the light... perhaps not so much... well, just a small tip.
Cheers ! :)
 
Feb 6, 2015
124
Central Ohio, USA
Andrew
Thank you for sharing the story of your father and your own with all of us. Touching !
The photos are an additional to the story. Well done.
Perhaps you could make them more dramatic controlling the light... perhaps not so much... well, just a small tip.
Cheers ! :)
I had to use the ambient light of the room. He and the other residents of the facility can be easily startled due to their mental states.

I not only want to respect him, but also the others since this is their home.

This was my first time visiting him at this facility, so having been there once I have a better idea of the place and perhaps, depending on time of day, can make better used of the light.
 
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Feb 6, 2015
124
Central Ohio, USA
Andrew
Just as an update, my friends - at 2:54am on August 13, 2019 my father passed in his sleep.

He is scheduled for cremation at 1pm today and services will be held on Friday the 16th. I'll be leaving for my drive to PA on the 15th.

It has been a bit of a struggle with mixed emotions. So sad to have him gone, but also relieved that he is no longer in pain.
I'm glad I got to see him one last time and captured the images above.

"Give her a handful, there, kid!" (one of my dad's favorite sayings. :)
-- Leo Livelsberger
 

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