As my fathers last breath nears, there is a certain kind of acceptance and clarity that comes over our family. We know that it might be a minute or hours. I have talked to him so much and feel I’ve said what I needed to say and even though it was very difficult I have told him what he needed to hear so he can start his next journey. There is such a sadness and beauty wrapped up in this word we call emotion. When I look at him all I see is dignity, not death. In true Zangaro form he is going to decide when he will take that next step. No one is going to tell him when he goes. That now is between him and God.
Dad and I weren’t very close when I was a kid. He was a Military Man and I ,for lack of a better term, was very creative minded and artsy. He was very clean cut and I was tattooed, pierced and always had some kind of odd hair style. My Mom was the glue that held us together. When my Mother passed in 2001, I promised her I would watch over him, this was before Alzheimer’s came into our lives. My dad went to work and provided the income and my Mom did the rest. As my Mom grew more ill my sister and father took on that caregiving role. I was out traveling the country with my job at that time. Believe me I was a complete mama’s boy we talked several time a day but I wasn’t there physically. I really want to thank my sister and dad for taking such good care of her. When she passed, I was on a business trip and did not make it in time to say goodbye, that haunts me to this day. It was then I decided to move back home immediately to honor my Mothers request.
I was very nervous about how dad and I would be able to have a relationship with out my Mom to be the buffer. Dad and I just did not have much in common. I started to realize that Dad didn’t know how to do the day to day things to care of himself. Mom and Dad just had that old school relationship. So I started to teach dad the things he needed to know to care for himself. I really only thought I would be back home for 6 months or so. Slowly Dad and I bonded over the loss and love of my mother. I realized at that point that’s all we needed to form a more intimate relationship. 1 year later I was still there and we moved into a new house together. It was very hard to leave the place our family called home, but at that time I felt that’s what our family needed to start healing. It was a very foggy time for both of us, so some things I can’t remember. About 4 years later dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and that where our next journey began. It was very difficult for many years, I was just a self absorbed, dumb-ass at 29 year old and Dad’s diagnosis seemed so early at 62 years old. We went through hell for the first years of our Alzheimer’s journey. I’m not putting myself down but I was a complete shit caregiver. I would want to run away and put him in a home which I completely understand and emphathize those that make that choice. In true Zangaro fashion I kept on hearing my Mothers voice in my head ( “Please watch over your Dad” ). I visited some care facilities and thought about taking my own life for a brief time. Slowly I stopped forcing dad to live in our world I started living in his and things just started to fall into place. You have to understand this took many years to get to, and then something happened. I thought I was caring for him but in all actuality he was caring for me, he truly saved my life. I am indebted to you dad. I have not taken care of you these last 14 years, you have taken care of me. You have worked so hard for so long, it’s time to just let go and find your happiness. Thank you for all the beautiful gifts you have given our family and so many others. You are my everything my beautiful, gentle Man. You are my dad, bestfriend, son, my Navy man, my teacher and a love I will never know again.
Vince Zangaro – Alzheimer’s Music Fest