The Man in the Mirror

My dad was a great father, husband, Papa, funny, loving, personable, smart, jack of all trades, with the most beautiful blue eyes that friends and family still talk about. Dad was originally diagnosed with Alzheimers in Dec of 2014. Soon after his diagnosis, we noticed that something was different. Although the Drs told us that it was normal behavior for Alzheimers, we knew it wasn’t. It began with him talking to himself in the mirror. He made himself laugh and we thought as long as he was happy, we were good! Many mornings, when mom would call him for breakfast, he would be busy talking to the man in the mirror. She would come into the bathroom and firmly tell him it was time for breakfast and she already called him a few times. Come NOW! She would say. He would look at the man in the mirror and say stuff like “That’s the witch!” Or “She was drunk last night.” And would laugh heartily. Before long, the friend in the mirror would become his enemy. The mid afternoon would come, and the man in the mirror would tell my dad that he was going to take his car, his house, his wife. He would say “Its mine.” He would talk for hours each day to the guy in the mirror, sometimes laughing, sometimes yelling. The guy in the mirror eventually turned to friends in the back seat of the car, ghosts on the wall, robbers in the basement…anything where he saw a reflection, he would start chatting with the person he saw. He could identify that his daughter was standing next to the man in the mirror, but could not understand that his daughter was also standing next to him and that it was a reflection. There was no reasoning. Time passed. Then came dead drowned babies. He would scream and cry begging for help for the babies. He would run away from home to go save the babies. We would tell him that we found the babies and he would cry with happiness. Within seconds, he would forget and the loop would start all over again. All day long. Every day. As his hallucinations got worse, the more specialists we saw and the more medications that were trialed. Nothing was working. We saw a neurologist specializing in dementia. After 3 and a half years, dad was finally diagnosed with Alzheimers AND Lewy Body. Eventually it turned into psychosis. My mom kept him at home until she no longer had a choice due to safety concerns. He was in geriatric psych wards and two dementia homes over a 5 month period. He finally found peace and passed away in Dec of 2018, just 4 years after his diagnosis. He deteriorated significantly in the last month of life. Although I choose not to share his last moments of life, most of his children were present and his wife by his side. And we are confident he was aware and happy that we were with him. We miss him terribly but are also happy for him that he has reached eternal peace.

Krista Henrich

Jul 20, 2019