Documenting My Father - Fuji X-Pro2

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
1,020
Location
Central Ohio
Real Name
Andrew
My father, Leo, has always been a good man. He worked his hardest to make sure that all 9 of us (him and my mom plus 7 kids) wanted for nothing. By wanting for nothing that was a warm bed in the winter, plenty of food and the proper clothes for every season.

We grew up poor in cash, but never in love and the things that mattered.

After graduating high school, he went to work at his brothers shoe repair shop. There he would help fix soles and heals. They were so good with leather that they could repair or mend just about anything. He would eventually marry my mother in 1960 and they would have their first child in 1962. That was my brother. A little over a year later and my first sister Shirley was born. The current apartment they were in was too small, so they started looking for houses and my father started looking for another job. The shoe repair business was not pulling in enough money to support the enlarging family.

My dad always being good with his hands, got a job working in the maintenance department of the local hospital. He did everything there from electrical to plumbing as well as maintain the boilers. He even helped test new equipment there. This image below was from an article that a local newspaper had covered. I believe this was back in 1968. He was 34 years old at the time.

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He worked that job, would help raise 5 more kids, me being the last one, born in 1974.

Unfortunately, none of his handyman skills translated over to me. I was always drawn toward technology and dove headlong into IT. I got my BS in Computer Information Systems in 1996 and have been doing that ever since.
Because of the hospital my father worked at at his ability to be very frugal with his money and investments, he was able to retire early, at 62.

I went to college and that took me over 6 hours away from them. I found my place in the world, started my own family and have done my best to remember all the lessons that he has ever taught me. I go back and i visit himand my mom almost every year.

Back in 2011, I took my Nikon D50, Tamron 17-50/2.8 and my new to me Nikon SB-28 and umbrella box and asked to do portraits of my parents. 2011 was not my greatest year for off camera flash, but here is my dad, none the less. Out back by his garage.
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He is 85 now. We have known for a long time that dementia runs in his side of the family and we started seeing some signs of it in him a few years ago. I don't think it helps that he has been living with diabetes for 40+ years.
My mom did her best to take care of him at home for as long as she could. That little lady is only 5'2" and 115 lbs. My dad is 6'2" and 225 lbs. When he started needing a lot of assitance for basic daily functions, she could no longer care for him at home safely.

He did have a couple of tumbles due to his legs giving out. We all knew that he needed to go into an assisted living facility.

The dementia is progressing, about the rate we had expected it to. He is no longer able to walk and uses a wheel chair full time. Diabetic nerve pain is also taking its toll on his legs, shoulders and arms. The facility we found for him is fantastic. They take great care of him and make sure that his diabetes is under control, he is fed and taken care of medically. They have an activities room and a TV room and a nice outside courtyard for visits.

My wife and I went to visit him and I took along my Fuji XPro-2 and some primes. I wasn't sure how that was going to go given his mental state. I figured I'd try and get some pictures of him and if he didn't respond well, I'd just put it away. He can get easily agitated but we know his triggers pretty well. No loud noises or fast movements. He is at a stage now where he is lucid and aware some of the time and other times he "checks out" for a bit or just nods off to sleep.

My mom goes up and sits with him every week and helps him with his lunch or dinner. He really loves carbonated drinks! He calls it beer, lol. Some of the other residents there call him "Mr. Bubbles" because he always wants something fizzy to drink.
I though the hardest thing would be to see him how he is now and remembering how he used to be. Oddly for me, that is not the case. Since I know he is being taken care of and his needs are being met by a quality care facility, we are doing all we can for him right now. We visit and love on him how we always have and just make sure he is as comfortable as we can make him.

I love my dad.
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The 2 images above, that is my mom, Jean. She is helping him with his afternoon snack.

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My dad loves his facial hair, but we had the nursing unit make him an appointment with the barber. The men in our family can't stand to have our mustache hair in our mouths!
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Here, he nodded off for a quick nap while we were talking.

I'm honestly not looking for sympathy or anything else out of this. Just wanted to share and say that I never really understood what dementia is or how it affects you and the family until it is involved with someone you love. It also gives me pause for thought on my own future. Since this is something that runs in the family, I can better prepare my own family for this potential inevitable waning years of life.
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2009
Messages
2,378
Location
NC
I can certainly relate, Andrew, as I lost my Dad earlier this month after he made 94 trips around the sun. He significantly declined mentally and physically over the past 2 years, with dementia being a significant contributor to his departing this world. You are a good son for being with your father in this part of his life journey.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
1,020
Location
Central Ohio
Real Name
Andrew
Just as an update, my friends - at 2:54am on August 13, 2019 my father passed in his sleep.

He is scheduled for cremation at 1pm today and services will be held on Friday the 16th. I'll be leaving for my drive to PA on the 15th.

It has been a bit of a struggle with mixed emotions. So sad to have him gone, but also relieved that he is no longer in pain.
I'm glad I got to see him one last time and captured the images above.

"Give her a handful, there, kid!" (one of my dad's favorite sayings. :)
-- Leo Livelsberger
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2005
Messages
21,275
Location
Moscow, Idaho
". . through sickness and in health. . ."
I've always felt that those words really apply to parents and all special friends/people around us; not just spouses. And it's not about empathy, but rather involves responsibility and most importantly genuine and perpetual respect.
Andrew, your pictures do just that. We are all mortal and the worth of our own time on Earth is best measured (in part) by how well we treat and care for those who leave before us.
Peace, my friend.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2007
Messages
2,861
Location
Tacoma, WA
Real Name
Ken St John
Thanks so much for sharing, and what a wonderful story you tell. Luckily, mental issues are not found anywhere in my family tree, so as I age this is one thing I'm not overly concerned about. However, if my luck changes, I certainly hope I have family like yours to watch over me.

However, I did loose one of my closest friends last spring to dementia and/or Alzheimer's. (Not sure of the technical diagnosis.) Bud had been declining for several years after being diagnosed with Parkinson's and the last time we saw him in person (two years ago), it was quite difficult. To see what had been a gregarious and super intelligent man, a retired USAF Colonel, reduced to sipping jello in a nursing home was very tough. Luckily, he still kind of remembered me and we were able to discuss some "old times" even though he tended to wander a bit.

God bless your father, you, and your family!!

Ken
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
20,564
Location
SW Virginia
So sorry to hear of your dad's passing. It sounds like he lived a wonderful life and did a great job raising you and your siblings. It is good that he is at peace now.

My Mom declined and passed away in very much the same way 19 years ago.
 

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