and the conversation went like this:
Me: [Cheerful] Hi dad! [In the background, I can hear mom explaining who I am to dad.]
Me: [Still cheerful] I just called to say happy Father's Day!
Me: [Beginning to crumble a little] I love you, dad. I'll talk to you again later.
Dad: [Breathing] OK.
Mom: [Takes back the phone]
Now, my younger sister had given me a heads up as far as what to expect from dad so I wasn't surprised. Also, his conversation skills on the phone had been limited to about 30 seconds to one minute this last year or so, but this was clearly the next phase in his Alzheimer's progression.
As sad as this was, I took the fact that he responded to my "I love you" with "OK" as a win. Normally (and by "normally" I mean back when he used to know who I was) his response to "I love you." was "Same here."
He's only ever told me "I love you" about three or four times my whole life, so that "OK", that acknowledgement of my existence on the phone, was good enough for me. I'll take it. How far have we come that listening to my father breathe at me on the phone and say OK is all I need from him? To know, logically, that this is the normal progression for Alzheimer's victims, and to accept it are two very different things.
I can't help but hope that if there is a heaven, that dad will get all of his memories back when he dies, and can remember that we loved him. So very much.
Happy Father's Day, dad.