In the waning days of August, 2012, my wife’s mother died. This left her father, having constructed his life entirely around being The Provider, completely unmoored. Honey stayed with him for a month while I returned home to get the kids ready for a new school year and to manage purchases and renovations to make our house accessible.
We have two kids, one of whom has severe ADHD. Our other child likely has it as well but, overshadowed by her brother’s extremity, it’s almost quaint.
Wild Child is aggravating, infuriating, charming, affectionate, temperamental, sweet, shy, obsessive – never mind, it just goes on. Diva is bright, charismatic, outgoing, sociable and funny as hell. She’s also a bit too independent and waaay too mature. Both are highly creative and have ridiculously high IQs. Parenting them is…an adventure.
Grampa has narcolepsy, a condition that can be managed somewhat with medication – which he refuses to take. He’s had numerous heart surgeries and frightening trips to the hospital, all of which he vehemently denies. He has dementia, a word that cannot be spoken in his presence because he’s not crazy, God Dammit.
My wife and I were coming up on our 26th anniversary, and in all those years – beyond “how was the traffic coming down?” – her father and I had never actually had a conversation. In late September, Grampa came to live with us…with me as his primary caregiver.
This, then, is how I came to be sandwiched between ADHD and dementia.