Disconnected Memory, Reconnected Relationship

by Melanie Edwards on July 4, 2012 · 5 comments

in life

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As ironic as it seems, my dad’s dementia and memory loss is strangely helping us to reconnect. My father and I have never been very close – not in the way you normally think of a father-daughter relationship. We had no issues and did have a relationship, just not an emotionally close one.

Hands with story

My father was a typical, old-fashioned, Puerto Rican father. That means that while he was a provider and was there for us as a husband and father, he was never the go-to guy for talking about problems. He did not nurture, play, or goof around. He did provide: he worked hard, provided financially for our family and provided sound, logical advice. That’s who he was.

Because of the type of father he was, it resulted in me knowing I could count on him for things like financial advice, logical solutions, and life lessons, so to speak. I also knew I could not count on him for heart-to-heart talks about feelings or seek emotional support, something us girls often need. For that, I went to my mother.

However, my father was always a storyteller. I do remember hearing many stories about his childhood in Puerto Rico, his family, and music. As such, even with the disease of dementia affecting his mind, he still enjoys telling stories.

These days, my father’s stories may be full of inaccurate statements, inconsistencies, and mixed-up facts, but they are still interesting to hear. I may hear a particular anecdote five times within a span of ten minutes, but to me, it’s allowing for us to talk. I simply sit and listen. I respond at the appropriate cues, prompt him for more at certain points, and pretend I’m hearing him share the story for the first time. Sometimes I do let him know he’s told me before, but I give him only part of the story and let him finish the rest.

Hearing him tell his stories is how we now talk, connect, and spend time together. In a way, it’s helping us patch up the bond that was always loose. Ironic as it is, I feel closer to him now, than I ever did before.

Photo: hapal/Flickr

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Latinaish July 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm

This was really wonderful, Mel. I could tell it came straight from the heart.


Sili Recio July 5, 2012 at 9:10 pm

That’s beautiful, Melanie. Dads are sometimes like that, aren’t they. They don’t love us any less but yet there’s that emotional connection that we didn’t grow up with. I’m still weaving mine with dad so, I know exactly what you mean.

My abuela had dimentia and she never lost the storytelling/sense of humor until she became non-verbal.  And even then, she could speak clearly with her eyes.  Thank you for sharing your story and allowing us to see the close bond that you have now woven with your father! {{{hugs}}}


Monica July 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm

So beautiful. And isn’t it wonderful to have a second chance to bond with your father? Maybe not in the way you’d have liked, but it’s an opportunity that might not have been found otherwise. And a chance to deepen your love for each other. So love this post, Mel.


Joscelyn @ MamiofMultiples.com July 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm

With my aging parents and ailing mother, I can relate. It can be challenging as a daughter, to be the mom to our own young families and still be there for our own parents. It’s wonderful that you have been able to reconnect to father in such a sweet and loving way. I’m sure these will be memories you cherish for a lifetime.


Sylvia A Martinez July 17, 2012 at 11:28 am

Very touching, Melanie. Reminds me a little of my dad, who died 12 years ago. We also connected through politics, and although I thought his yelling at politicians on the TV screen was pointless, I now find myself doing it, along with many other things he did. LOL.
I thought you might be interested in this blog. Like you, Beatriz also contributed to Mamiverse. http://www.mymothersbrain.wordpress.com/

Thank you for sharing this piece. It speaks to love and patience in a beautiful way. 


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