If He Knew

I feel a certain uneasiness whenever I think of how Dad would feel if he realized what has become of him.   If he could see himself he would be appalled.  But even worse, he would be absolutely mortified that we allowed anyone else to see him in this condition.  

I try to push those thoughts aside.  My father – my brilliant, confident, dignified, independent father is long gone.  The man who sits before me now has but a few simple remaining pleasures – like going to church and being surrounded by the very people he would never have wanted to witness his demise.  He doesn't go there for religion; he goes there for socialization – which is quite a stretch considering  no one is comfortable talking to him anymore, and fewer and fewer brave souls bother to make the attempt.

Dad has become the man he would have had no patience for; the man who would have been invisible to him; the man he would have avoided; the man he would have pitied.  He has become the pathetic, feeble, doddering old man with a little bit of dried egg on the corner of his mouth who doesn't realize he's still singing after the song has ended; doesn't realize he's holding up the line; doesn't realize he's interrupting the conversation; doesn't realize he's making inappropriate comments; doesn't realize he's repeating himself over and over and over again; doesn't realize he's not making any sense, and doesn't realize people are politely trying to extricate themselves from his company.  He is the antithesis of the man he used to be.

I am haunted by the knowledge that my fiercely proud father would be profoundly embarrassed, humiliated and disgraced if he was cognizant of his plight.  If he could have, he would have begged us not to let anyone see him like this.  But what are we to do?  Keep him locked away because when he was still himself that's what he'd have wanted?  No.  Of course not.
I try to assuage my guilt by telling myself he doesn't know – and he never will.  But it is of little comfort, because I know.  I know he would hate it with every fiber of his being.   

I’m sorry, Dad.  Please forgive me.       

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