Life in a funeral parlor is very boring. Father sleeps all day now. He was always a napper, and absolutely loves to sleep. Perhaps it was an escape for him years ago, a way to avoid dealing with Mom or us kids.
A big part of his nappiness is sleep apnea, which wasn’t even heard of years ago. In the 1990’s Mom convinced him to see the doctor about his constant sleepiness, and he had a sleep study done. It was found that my Dad has one of the most severe cases of sleep apnea that the doctor had ever seen. It was incredible, the number of times he quits breathing in an hour. So finally we had an answer to why our father was always trying to “catch up” on sleep, making us tiptoe about the house each day when he was lying down. I coined the nickname “Sir Nap-a-lot” for him, which he did not find amusing, but we all thought was very funny and accurate.
Fast forward 50 years, and here if my Dad now with severe Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
From the research being done insomnia and lack of restorative sleep are key factors in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This is no surprise to me, having watched my Dad lie on the couch all hours of the day, waking more exhausted than before. Now his eyes glaze over twenty minutes after he gets out of bed, it’s all he can do to make it back to his room or over to the couch. It is especially bad after he eats, which has made me wonder about his blood sugar. He was prescribed one of those machines for people with Apnea, but he never, ever used it. He is totally non-compliant when it comes to stuff like that.
So, here I sit in this quiet house, dogs lying about on floor pillows and blankets, cats on beds,chairs and couches, and Dad laying wherever a space can be found-out like a light!
Do I nap? Oh, I try. I tell myself I should try to live by Father’s schedule. so that I am not falling asleep when he is up and about. That doesn’t seem to make me sleep, though. I lay down and shut my eyes,but the mind races and the pain lies under my skin like an ever present organism, draining my life juices away. my nap time is spent turning this way, then that-stuffing pillows here, moving blankets there. Petting dogs, pushing cats off the bed, always listening for a movement in the next room.
I lay sometimes on my new (used) big red couch, such a pretty piece, and a great napper, and now and then I drift away. Dreaming of yesterdays, when my body moved and I was loved. Dreaming of giant grasshoppers eating my zinnias. Falling asleep to the sound of my silent prayers, prayers for God to send me an angel. An angel to stand over me and keep the bad things away while I rest.
When I awaken, it is always time to perform a task, feed a father, a cat, a dog, a bird, a plant. Wipe a hand across blurry eyes, beg a brutalized body to creak to it’s sore feet. Teeter off, half bent over, to fry a sausage, crack an egg, sweep a mess, say a pleasant “good morning!”. He looks vacantly past me into the blazing day, sips old coffee and says, “I didn’t sleep at all. I’ll be going back to bed after breakfast. After lunch. After dinner. After snack. After everything, I will be going to bed.”