Tuesday, October 3, 2017

There By the Grace of God.....

Pardon me while I break into your blog reading for a not so brief public service announcement. After hearing the news out of Vegas yesterday I wanted to tell the story of how I used to live in fear that one day it might be my turn in front of the cameras trying to make sense of a senseless act committed by a loved one.

While the details of this particular case remain to be seen, yesterday I wove a story in my own head from the ordeal I went through with my old man when he was in the very early stages of dementia. It's all so clear now but it wasn't then.

Daddio loved guns. He had them all over the house. He was a responsible gun owner who taught us all to shoot when we were kids. He hunted but never brought home a dead thing. He could never pull the trigger. It was all good until.....

 ... about ten years ago when he began to change. He started being angry about things that didn't make sense to me. He grew paranoid. Not all the time. Just during his "spells" when he talked at length about wanting to hurt people. I could see he wasn't himself when he got this way. I tried to get help but he was always fine when he was at the doctor's and he would just laugh it off. No one took me seriously.

After a scary episode with a neighbor, I took the guns. I was afraid to come through the door when I came to care for him not knowing if he was waiting in ambush. I had to tear the house up to find them all. He was good at hiding them. He was furious with me. Too bad.

Did this end the nightmare? No. Then it was knives. I had to take them all too when he threatened to use one on a first responder who came to help him into an ambulance. During a routine hospitalization for an illness, he tried to hurt a nurse with a dinner knife he had hidden in his bed. He has had to be sent to a mental health facility twice since he has been in long term care for this sudden irrational urge to hurt people.

He was put out of his first nursing home for plotting to kill his roommate with a knife he took from the kitchen. My dad. Dear old quilting Daddio. He could be fine and then be planning to kill someone in a split second. Dementia does that.

My message here is that if you have older folks that have an arsenal at home as so many do-keep a close eye. There by the grace of God....it's not me this time but for years I worried myself sick that it might be.


  1. I can't imagine the mental anguish you went through...

    We are just starting to see signs of dementia in Steve's Dad. He is such a sweet man, until........ In one of his episodes he told his favorite daughter-in-law that if he had a can of gas he would douse her and set her on fire.

    This from a man who is normally the sweetest man in the world.

    I'm glad you were able to intervene before anything bad happened. I hope we never have to go that far.

    Hugs sweet lady. You are in my thoughts.

  2. I am in awe that you had the guts/compassion/strength to do what you had to do. It couldn't have been easy. Much Love - Witchknit

  3. There is so much we don't understand. So glad you were preemptive in your care for your dad. Nay we all be so responsible!

  4. This is so heartbreaking, for him and for you. I'm glad you were able to take matters into your own hands, but how frightening.

    Sometimes even though it is a terrible thing to say, I think I'm lucky that my parents both died relatively young, before their minds could deteriorate like that. Though I know dementia is not always age-related.

    Take care of yourself. And know always that you have done and are doing, the right thing.

  5. Oh Deb, how heartbreaking. So glad you were able to do what you did (are doing), but so sorry you had to. Sending hugs your way.

  6. What an amazing story you have shared; thank you for writing this. Being aware of what's going on in the lives of those we love is sometimes so difficult. I'm thankful for your strength to protect your father's dignity, his life and, potentially, the lives of others. Take care

  7. What a heartbreaking experience! I cannot imagine the anguish you have experienced. It is great that you were able to intervene and keep things under control. Hope your Dad does well in his current facility. Dementia is such a cruel disease. Thoughts and prayers for you and your family.

  8. Deb thankyou for sharing your personal difficult story with us. WOW. You did us all a world of good. Im so sorry you had to have him angry at YOU!!! Your story may help another

  9. Thank you for this story Deb. My God he could have hurt so many people but had no idea what he did or why. Mental illness, dementia or just plain crazy people. Guns are a big problem and no one should have automatic assault riffles, no one. I am glad you were aware and took the measures you did to prevent a real tragedy. Dementia is tragedy enough.

  10. Thank you for this incredibly personal post. We get a chance to learn something new or think about things in a different way when people share their personal experience. It's easy to fixate on the scenarios or generalizations that we are given in the headlines. I'm sorry about the struggle, the fear, the sadness, and fall out from Daddio's dementia. I'm just sorry he has it. I'm sorry about the events that have happened to influence you to write this. But thank you for sharing.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this...I know so little about dementia. I thought it just involved memory. Thank goodness you were able to get him the help he needed and in doing so prevented another tradgedy. In sharing this story you are enlightening others to watch for these symptoms since we can't seem to get sensible gun control laws passed. That had to be a very difficult time for you and God bless you for being such a responsible and loving daughter to that quilt making Dad of yours.

  12. Wow! I feel so sorry for you that you endured such torment (and probably abuse from your loved one too for just doing the right thing by them). It's so unfair. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Your message is so important - I hope it gets out and that people do take extra care of loved ones.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of awareness of the way dementia can occur. There are cases of people getting the early symptoms and diagnosis in their early 40s and sometimes younger. There are also many different forms of dementia which makes the diagnosis even more tricky.

    Sadly, your message comes too late for some families in my part of the world. You were concerned about the welfare of your father's roommates when in care and rightly so.

    Unfortunately, this scenario came to fruition in a nursing home in South Australia. I feel so for the families involved - it is a difficult enough decision to place a loved one in institutional care in the first place and the idea is that the person will receive superior care in a specialist centre but this is not happening in many nursing homes.

    If people try to accuse you of exaggerating your concerns, direct them to the case where people did come to harm because they were not cared for appropriately.

    When you throw weapons and violence into the mix, it is a scary proposition. Thank you again for sharing a real life example of the effects of dementia and I am sending you hugs. It must have been a harrowing time for you. xxx

  13. thanks for sharing your heartfelt story. Luckily I have no need to possess a gun and am at a loss as what drove the las vegas gunman. it is a conundrum to me.