Jun 192020

I didn’t expect to make another post with the same name so soon.

Earlier today I learned my father is suffering cognitive decline. He builds houses and hires a lot of sub-contractors, and apparently now he will sometimes get confused, and order or approve work he didn’t really want or need. He won’t remember doing it later, and will get upset about it.

I fear for him. He’s proud, and he’s never taken advice well. As this continues, it will become easy for evil people to take advantage of his growing confusion, and he won’t accept help lightly.

I really despise myself, for not having a better relationship with him. He was hard to have a relationship with as a kid, he was very authoritarian and stereotypically reserved. As I grew older and lost my Polish proficiency, the language barrier became a problem. Now it’s hard to relate, there is such a gulf between us. I know it’s not too late yet, but I fear I won’t cross it before his mind really starts to fragment. I’ve never known my dad, and maybe I never will.

I’m also afraid for myself, which is selfish, but there it is. He’s about 25 years older than me. That’s a lot of time, but it’s also not a lot of time.
If I quit accounting and focus on writing, that’s time to get out 25 books or so.
I’ve been a rationalist for 12 years… I have twice as much time left in the movement as I’ve already put in, to help create something greater, and I don’t know if that’s enough. I’ve done so little in the past 12.
Anti-aging tech hasn’t come far enough in my lifetime that I can say with confidence it’ll reach a place that can prevent my own brain decline within 25 years.

I hate that I’ve destroyed every relationship I’ve had that would’ve afforded me someone’s shoulder to cry on tonight.

Maybe I’ve got more of my mom’s genes. Maybe he’s just extraordinarily unlucky. Maybe it isn’t as bad as I’m thinking it is… I haven’t noticed any changes in our interactions, personally. But would I, seeing as I don’t even know him that well?

He’s done well for himself, and for us. He came to a foreign country with almost nothing, and is now very comfortable. I can’t complain. It feels so unjust this should happen to him now, after he’s finally done all the work and gotten to the restful part of life. I want to say it’s not fair, but that’s stupid and childish, nothing is fair. But… fuck. Fuck death, and fuck aging. I feel I have failed utterly, and I didn’t realize this was the test. Now it’s too late to go back and study.

  5 Responses to “Dying in Pieces, part 2”

  1. This sucks. I feel for you and wanted to tell you that you have my sympathies.

    I understand what you’re saying about knowing them as a person. I don’t think it applies to my parents, but definitely my grandparents. I only ever really knew them as their “role” of grandmother or grandfather. They played that role well, but I later realized as an adult that I never knew them as more than that. I’m always a bit jealous of other people when they talk about their friend- or mentorship with grandparents.

    I’ve been thinking for a while over this textbox about what to say and what would be sensitive or not, but I can’t come up with anything good. Just know that you are not alone.

  2. So sorry, hope things are not as bad as they appear for your father.

    As someone who has lost all grandparents and seen extreme physical (though not cognitive) decline for both of my parents, I have some idea of what you are going through. It is selfish, to think in terms of how this effects long term goals but pretty much everyone experiences much of the same at times like this. I certainly have. All I can offer in terms of suggestions is to try and see the things you have accomplished in life and remember how many people have accomplished far less.

    Hope you feel better.

  3. I am so sorry you are going through this. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s so I know what the process was like for my family. This sucks, but you are not alone, more people than you might expect understand and sympathize.

  4. My dad died this May. I don’t know what the death certificate says he died of, and I don’t think any doctor examined his body anyway, but he died from gradual brain degeneration that took 20 years to spread from his memory to his control of basic motor functions.

    My advice is: Talk to your dad now, while you can. If you still wonder who he was after it’s too late to ask him, you won’t be able to work through your own feelings because you won’t have the data you need. You’ll be full of feelings, and conflicted because you won’t know what you “should” feel, not just because it’s confusing and philosophical, but because you won’t even know what really happened.

    And don’t hold back from loving your dad because you’re afraid he might not deserve it. Loving someone else isn’t a reward for that person; it’s a reward to /you/.

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