Heywire winner Nakita Jager, from Clarence Town, NSW on the challenges of growing up with a dad that has dementia.
The sound of the metal walking frame thumping against the hard tiles wakes me.
Another sleepless night.
Mum is shouting, “go back to bed Ron”, but he doesn’t understand.
“Get out of my room,” he says, curled up with a blanket on the lounge.
There’s nothing we can do. My dad has dementia.
I remember the first time my dad had a stroke. I was 10 years old.
Now he’s had 10 [strokes].
Ambulances coming to the house has become ordinary, so have trips to the hospital.
I just want to talk to dad but communicating can be tough.
He doesn’t understand sometimes, if you talk too fast, and sometimes he forgets what you just told him only moments later.
Or when he’s trying to tell me something but he just can’t get it out, he knows what he is trying to say, but he can’t.
So, I try my hardest to make conversation. If I don’t, the silence overcomes me.
The feeling of both emptiness and sadness bothers me.
I feel selfish, because how could I be upset when dad is the one affected by this spiteful illness?
I remember when I was little I would think things like, “I hope dad will be able to attend my wedding”.
I don’t think like that so much anymore.
Guilt weighs upon me when he can’t get out of his chair all day.
He sits, playing cards, matching Jacks on Queens and watching TV.
I try my hardest to be there with him.
Every Saturday we will watch the horse races together.
I know the time I spend, I will always remember.
I know in this silence I can appreciate my dad’s company. We still share the same sense of humour and he still has that infectious smile.
My dad has dementia but he’s still the most admirable and kindest man I’ve ever met.
Dad did everything for me before he got sick.
He drove me everywhere, had a joke and smile for me whenever I was feeling down.
So now I will be there for him.
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