Why am I telling you all this?
Because I have decided that my hand on this man’s back is the beginning of something. I am going to start writing more publicly about my journey with my dad.
I haven’t done so for a long time out of respect for his privacy, and I will continue to care for what I believe he would and wouldn’t want put out in public, and will continue to be in dialogue with my mom and my brother about that. But for the last few months I have been sitting with a question: Is my silence publicly about my dad’s illness, and my experience of it, protecting him or contributing to the silence, shame, and stigma that surrounds this wildly common disease?
I’ve been slowly coming around to thinking my silence is no longer serving me, or the potentiality that putting words to my father’s loss of words, could be healing for others—all the daughters and sons and wives and husbands, the friends and neighbors, who love someone whose brain is fading, whose very essence is shifting, who requires new kinds of communication and care. The experience of my dad’s dementia, for me, has been one of profound loss, and also, it has been the most important experience—right next to birthing and growing my children—of exploring the human condition.

The gift of the fallen stranger - by Courtney Martin