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I don't want this estrangement and I know that if my Dad were in his right mind, he would accept me. Its a big deal for me; not sure I can drive 600 miles and have an old car. Or I could look for a share ride. I would be gambling on the situation I would find there. Should I do it? I would never give him notice because he'll turn me away at the security gate then.

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Yes, it sounds like dropping in on him would be the worst thing I could do. He would just verbally abuse me in person, too. I couldn't take it. When did he get forced into care? Scary, scary, scary!
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I've been trying that, for the past year he actually sends back any mail he gets from me! This is not the person that I grew up with. He was a loving father who had his problems with alcoholism and non diagnosed PTSD from the Korean War. But I love him unconditionally. I just really feel his abuse would stop or I'd be able to control it if I visited him. I don't know if I can do the trip, like I said, but I can sleep in my van if it doesn't work out and just come right home, 12 hour drive.
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This is so heartbreaking...it's the dementia speaking, not your dad. Send him cards and letters. I would not risk a trip under these circumstances. Try to mend bridges from afar.
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