Sunday, January 10, 2010 – by Frank Firek Jr.

01/13/2010

(I’m posting this Guest Blogger entry on behalf of my brother Frank Jr. who is having technical difficulties with WordPress. ~Joleen)

Today my dad spent the day with me and my family at our house. It was his first time out of the Sunrise assisted living center since we dropped him off last weekend. My mom and Joleen dropped him off on their way to church. Dad seemed in good spirits and happy to be here when he arrived. And he stayed that way the whole day!

My 4-1/2 year old son, Frankie, was excited to have grandpa spend the day with us and we started off in the basement playing with Frankie’s Geo train set. Frankie had set the track up the night before so that it would be ready for grandpa’s visit. My dad did well with it. We gave him the controller for one of the trains and with some coaching, he would start and stop the train when directed to do so. After a while of playing with trains, I asked my dad if he wanted to watch his church’s service on their web broadcast. He said yes, and I took him in there for the service. During one of the audience shots we saw my mom and Joleen sitting there and my dad recognized them once I pointed them out. He seemed to enjoy the music and the part of the service that I was there to watch. After a little while, my wife Amy and our 4 month old Ashton came and sat with grandpa while he was listening to the service. He had his eyes closed and seemed to be in a good place. I went to play with Frankie, and Amy later told me that during the service they said a prayer for one of their former head ushers, Frank Firek, who moved into a nursing home in the last week. My dad seemed to get a little misty eyed, but took it in stride. Amy then said she thinks my dad my have drifted off to sleep, because he jumped up and said, “OK, what’s next?”

Next was to get bundled up and go play in the snow. We shoveled the snow off the deck and after helping a little on the deck, my dad went to shovel the lawn. So we now have a nice path across the lawn to the neighbors house and around the side of our deck. The plan was to have hot chocolate after being outside, but Amy said we didn’t have any milk. So I loaded up grandpa and Frankie in the care and drove ¼ mile to Krogers. We went in and I collected my dad’s mittens so that he wouldn’t lose them. We got the milk quickly and then had to wait in line to pay. My dad started to get warm and off came his hat, his sunglasses and his coat – All of which I had to then manage. We paid for the milk and I redressed my dad to walk back to the car. It was a pretty long, and a little bit stressful, process just to get a ½ gallon of milk! 🙂

When we got home my dad and I took a walk around the block and talked. I asked him a bunch of questions, most of which he got wrong. Like are you working or retired? – working, but it’s not really what I want to be doing. What have you been doing lately? – a lot of community service work with my family. When I asked about his kids he talked like he didn’t know who I was. I said I am your son. He looked surprised and said “Let me see you.” I faced him and he said “Yes you are”. I then asked him where he was living now and, to my shock, he said “In jail. Well it’s kind of like a jail. It’s not very fun there and they make him work and clean the place.” He didn’t seem to get sad, he was just matter of fact about it. When we got back we had hot chocolate and chili for lunch. We then had quiet time for everyone to rest. My dad laid back in our reclining chair, Amy on the couch, and Frankie and Ashton in their beds. I went into the office to work. A little while later there was a bang. When I came out, I found out that my dad had fallen out of the chair. Amy’s thinks it was while he was trying to get up, but she had her eyes closed and didn’t see it. But he was fine.

Later we all got dressed up again and went sledding. Grandpa and Frankie raced each other down the hill a couple times. It was great to see my dad on a sled and having fun with his grandson! We only had one incident there when my dad started to get into it with some other dads there about the rules of the hill. My dad got upset with the guys and we got my dad away from them and he calmed right down. I’m pretty sure those guys were left wondering “What the hell just happened here?” I quietly let them know my dad has Alzheimer’s as I escorted dad away from them.

After dinner, we all danced around the family room to the “Splish, Splash, I was taking a bath” song before the kids’ bath. After reading the bedtime stories, I loaded my dad up into the car for the return to Sunrise. My dad kept the conversation in the car pretty much about business and asked me at least 10 times how things were going at work. He didn’t make much sense about his “work” and he thought his work and mine were different (for those that don’t know, my dad and I started our company together and he worked there for 13 years until he had to retire). As we got to Sunrise I was dreading the moment that he realized he was going back to the “home”. We parked, walked in, went to his room, took off our coats, etc., and I asked him if he wanted to lay down and take a nap. He said “No, I think I’ll just go home”. I told him that Mom and Joleen were coming over and he said that he would stay to see them. When they walked in he seemed happy to see them and after a few minutes, he referred to this room as his home. As I said bye to him I told him I would see him for dinner tomorrow night and I would take him out to one of his favorite restaurants, El Nibble Nook. He was in good spirits as I left.

When I got home, my wife Amy was in bed. I gave her a big hug and kiss and thanked her for all her support with my dad and for being so great with him. I told her that she was helping me to be a better son for my dad.

Frank Firek, Jr.

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4 Responses to “Sunday, January 10, 2010 – by Frank Firek Jr.”

  1. Dear Frank & Amy,
    Your mom and dad can be proud of the children they raised. All of you have been such a comfort to your mom during this hard ordeal. I sent Joleen a letter the other day and I thank Mary Lou for forwarding the news about your dad to us.

    We will continue to keep your dad in our prayers and especially your dear mom. I have known your mom since she was a little girl and have felt very close to all this family. Prayers are also going out to you adult kids—this is a very hard and trying time. God Bless all of you.

    Love, Pat and Tom McGarrie

  2. Frank Firek, Jr. said

    Thanks Pat and Tom!

  3. Miriam Weinstein said

    Joleen – I subscribe to Google alerts regarding Pick’s Disease because I found an old high school friend after 30 years of losing contact. By the time I found her, Kathy, she had already been diagnosed with Pick’s (FTD). She recently passed in December. Her sister has been diagnosed with the same disease. My heart goes out to you and your family. Continue with your filming; find the strength. I am a writer and publicist by trade. My mission is to build awareness and find a cure. I want help you to help others. God Bless.

    • Miriam ~

      Thanks for reaching out and for the encouragement to keep going with my project! It’s a delicate balance of wanting to inform everyone of my dad’s current condition yet wanting to preserve his privacy and dignity. I think I’m learning how to tell the masses just enough without always including his intimate details. In regard to your friend and her sister, do you know if Pick’s is typically hereditary? This is all so new to me that I don’t know if that’s true or not. Thanks again!

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