My father died of complications from dementia.
His illness didn’t make for a sensitive, tender, trying but touching Hollywood portrayal, at least not the bulk of it. It was brutal. It bore down on us like a fucking Mack truck.
Twice he tried to kill my mother. The first time, I was around and subdued him, wild eyed in their apartment building ground-level parking garage, laying into a steel door with an entire windshield wiper he had torn off their own vehicle. He had knocked her down using two 1-gallon jugs of water from Costco following their shopping trip there. Like a helicopter propeller, he had swung them around with outstretched arms, delivering blows to her head.
He then set upon her while she lay on the ground, disoriented, hitting and kicking her further. She had escaped by crawling into the elevator, which required a key to open, while he went for that windshield wiper. Making it to the second floor, she staggered into their apartment where I had been awaiting their return, the abrasions on her face and head bloody and already bruising, the skin raspberry in texture and color.
She didn’t have to say much to paint me a picture of what had occurred. Not that she could get much out; she entered the unit dazed, disoriented, breathlessly calling my name, stammering, repeating something to the effect of, “He hit me, he hit me… Philip, he hit me.”
I was disturbed, but I acted quickly; I went down to collect him. I had no idea what I was going to find, adrenaline coursing through my system. Perhaps he had run off, perhaps he was now assaulting someone else.
The sound of him working a maintenance door over with the same windshield wiper and growling like an animal or scream-grunting or whatever name that unholy noise deserved led me around a corner and to him. I prepared mentally; I had the sense he was going to rush me once he realized I was somewhere behind him. A kick brought him down when he did turn on me upon my approach, right there in the open in…