Susan's Tall Tale with Matilda The Giraffe
My father had Dementia and Parkinson’s disease and lived in a nursing home. He was loved and well cared for. I had difficulty with understanding the diseases he had, where he was and why we could not fix it and make him better. I did not know how to communicate with him at the various stages of the disease. I wanted to keep him in this world with me and my family. I wanted him to remember me, my family and everything that happened in our lives. This was not possible. The path he was going down does not take any passengers. Slowly but surely he was disappearing into another world that there was no coming back from. This was a man I loved dearly but I struggled with this and also visiting him in the nursing home. I could only stay a short time while others in my family could stay just combing his hair.
To help me deal with this, I brought my father a 9-foot ornamental Giraffe and named her Matilda. Why? To make everyone smile from the inside out. To also bridge the gap between me and my father and everyone in the nursing home. Matilda helped me understand that I had to let him go down that path and be happy if he was happy. Matilda brought love, laughter, and light and was there with him when he finally caught that big wave.
My father passed away on a clear summers night with Matilda by his side. Throughout my life, I have always looked for and believed that there is beauty and humor in the darkest of moments. It just has to find you somehow. Matilda found me, in a store on a cold winters night, and became my guiding hand. She is my friend, my teacher, my inspiration.
I hope that people see and hear that what I have done and my journey with my father will somehow bring a smile to people struggling with Alzheimer’s, Dementia or any other disease. My end vision is to gather a circus of large animals like Matilda and travel around visiting nursing homes making it a fun place for friends and family to visit instead of a hard place.
The below links will give advice and guidance for people in need.