Never Goodbye

Navigating the Journey through Dementia

Yes, things were going very well. Whenever Dad got a bit antsy, he would go for a walk, and his restlessness would fade away. As he was setting out for another walk, I cheerfully wished him a good one and said I would see him soon.

What other man 88 years old walks two, four, or six miles a day? Taking these walks provided a challenge, and he was proud of his accomplishment.

His walk usually lasted about an hour, and I was thinking he would be returning soon when the phone rang. When I answered, a woman asked if Milly was there. I told her Milly didn’t live here. She said she must have dialed the wrong number and was about to hang up when I thought to mention my mother’s name was Milly. The neighbor’s Labrador retriever was also named Millie. That Millie was taking a walk with my Dad. She asked me if Jack lived here. I told her yes–Jack was my father. Perhaps she was a family friend who had been out of touch and did not realize my mother had passed away.

But when she said Dad had fallen down on the road from our house, a harsh reality set in. Running with what speed I could muster and was quickly out of breath. Then I saw them just after the road slanted downhill. The mail lady was sitting with my dad in her car. She had found him lying on the pavement, moments after he had fallen. He was hurt and unable to walk.

Dad insisted he would be fine and was sure he hadn’t broken anything. I called our retired neighbor, Brenda’s husband Jim, to see whom they used as a doctor here in Fort Payne. Jim couldn’t remember. Given my dad’s animosity toward hospitals and doctors, Jim helped me take him to a chiropractor. The chiropractor took four x-rays and the last one showed a break in the upper femur near the hip.