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In May my father unceremoniously kicked his wife of 63 years out of the house after my mother sided with my brother in an argument. Although their last few years had been very difficult for mum, she was unaware that her naturally narcissistic husband was deep in the throws of FTD and Alzheimers. With five children to help her 'escape' we took on the decision making. Her departure escalated his dementia as he tried to cope with ADLs until one day we found him on the laundry floor peeing in a drain, bleeding from the cuts on his head from falls.


He now lives in a secure high care nursing facility and has come to terms with his diagnosis and prognosis. He is medicated (unknowingly) and this has changed his personality and thankfully his aggressive mood. At the moment he is kind, patient, gentle and VERY REMORSEFUL. Our visits are welcome but quite emotional for him. He said yesterday he desperately wants to see mum. I am not sure if he is able to apologize, but says he just wants to talk and laugh about old times. Mum, 82, has been through as much trauma as we have in the last few months moving from house to house, trying to figure out the rejection. We keep her in the loop and she is very concerned about him and is so sad how things have ended.


I feel she has tried to talk herself into hating him because of his controlling and narcissistic personality and she wonders why she put up with him for so long. I worry that as she is so used to fighting and arguing with him she could be quite spiteful towards him. As I am not sure how long dad will be in the adorable phase I feel the time is now if we are to reunite them. I guess I am asking if this is a pandora's box I need not open?

I would like your mother to concentrate really hard on what "winning" looks like for her.

If it is telling herself that she has gained her freedom, good.
If it is being the stronger and forgiving him, rescuing what she treasures from the heap, fine.

But your father really has lost all right to make any requests, let alone give instructions. All you can do is help your mother think through what *she* wants.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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As I get older I am not so forgiving. We all have choices. It always surprises me that a person knows they are mean when they drink, but continue to do it knowing they are hurting those who love them. I know its a dependency. You have been a bastard to your family for years and then when alone, sick or dying you want forgiveness. Yes, we can forgive but we don't have to forget. We can forgive and still walk away.
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I saw more of my first husband in the last three months of his life, than I had for the years we were apart. We found that we didn’t talk at all about the past problems, just about what was going on for us then, a little about things that he thought I would be interested in, plus a bit about our children. It may be that your parents also won’t sink into a repeat of the past problems, and that it might leave both of them with happier memories of a life that (for all its faults) was spent together.
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toomuchtobear Nov 19, 2018
Thank you, I do hope they can talk about the good times as I know there were a lot. There was a lot of grief (losing children) which was not dealt with at the time.
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Indeed you are in a tough position. Kudos to you for stepping up to care for both of your parents. I went through a similar experience with mine. Caregiving for the pair of them was like trying to corale mercury. Their relationship had always been tumultuous, and Dad was an abusive alcoholic for many years. Once retired he stopped drinking. His behavior improved, although he was a dry drunk, and they were set in their ways. Mom had an open invitation of support and a safe peaceful place to live whenever she decided she’d had enough. I completely understand how you and your sibs did not recognize your dad’s dementia earlier. By their own choosing, my parents continued to live under the same roof, even as things escalated. Eventually, due to his dementia, Dad became too dangerous for Mom or myself to care for him, or for the two of them to live together. I had the help of social workers because the pair of them were too much for me to handle alone. It was heartbreaking to watch. Initially, when they were living apart, Mom was hurt and ruminated often on their conflicts and his aggressive behaviors. At that point she had not accepted his dementia diagnosis and refused to acknowledge he had no control over his actions, which were bizarre and volatile, even for him. Once we had proof via brain imaging he was advanced and had very little time left, Mom finally accepted he had dementia and began to come to terms with his behaviors. It freed her up emotionally and she was able to visit him. Their visits went well, as Dad was medicated and Mom was in better health and rested. They were two loving spouses content to spend time with one another. It was truly a gift to both of them, especially as Dad’s dementia had excelerated and he passed not long after. In fact, they spent the better part of his last 3 days on earth together, with supervision of course. They held hands for the majority of the time and Mom helped feed him and dress him. I can say it was worth the risk and I have no regrets about facilitating their reunion. It gave me solace upon his passing that I had done right by them both. It was a gift to Mom, as well. She had closure and peace she would not have had if they had not been reunited and reconciled in their own way. I relinquished responsibility for their relationship and stopped trying to make sense of it long ago. I gave Mom respect due her by allowing her to make her own choice about visiting Dad. I take solace in that now, as she passed mid August of this year, 16 and a half months after Dad. My take on it all is this, too much life was spent in misery due to alcoholism, and I am thankful for the gifts afforded, beauty traded for ashes.
Getting back to answering your question, since your dad is medicated, in a better mental state, and even remorseful, as long as he and your mom want to see one another I would encourage you to make that happen for them. Talk to a social worker at the facility your dad is at, as well as the caregiving staff and nurses. They can help you by preparing your dad for the visit with Med management and help in choosing the best time of day for him to receive your mom as a visitor. They can also provide you with back up support during the visit to ease your mind as they are not emotionally invested and do not carry your burdens. This is what they do every day and have likely seen this situation played out before and are prepared for whatever comes of your parents’ reunion. You have my prayers and empathy. I hope you come to a resolution you can all live with.
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toomuchtobear Nov 21, 2018
So sorry for your losses, RainbowSister, and thank you for such a caring and detailed response. Our stories are very similar, even though my father never touched a drink he was raised by an abusive alcoholic. In untangling the last 5 years, Dad said mum told him she never loved him. I think this sent him into depression. Their marriage was over 5 years ago but they agreed to live together and care for each other and that was their 'deal'. Of course this became far too difficult with dad's illness (which was then undiagnosed). In the weeks after mum was forced to leave, Dad would say to us, "she didn't have to leave", "we could have just got another 'cupboard' for the food" (I think he meant separate refrigerator). Mum maintains she said to him she "could no longer love him" because he had made life so difficult. I see hope in your story for my parents, because I always thought they had a great love story. I will talk to the staff at the facility, I can see they would be helpful with this as you have suggested.
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Wow. I forced myself to retrieve my password on this one! I am so sorry to say this, and I respect your care for your elderly parents, but "LEAVE IT". After reading your post, your mother deserves peace at last...if he chose your sibling over your mom years ago, he made his bed! Please don't let his eleventh hour relapse into being a human fool you into appeasing him. (Believe me, I know what living with/or without a bastard like this is).
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toomuchtobear Nov 19, 2018
Yes I do agree that is a path that we maybe should take..and we have said we don't expect her to ever see him again. I will see what my counselor says this afternoon.
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My neighbour for 23 years was forced to share a house with the abusive alcoholic husband she had divorced - he sneered "you wouldn't have the guts!" - because she literally had nowhere else to go and he obstinately refused to move out.

Obviously, if I hadn't been a complete numpty with three little kids on my hands and I'd been paying attention to what was happening under my nose I would have offered her more support than just a horrified expression when she at last told me about all this. Let that pass.

Anyway. The point is that when he was finally dying, he begged her forgiveness and begged for a reconciliation, and they were remarried by a registrar shortly before he died.

She wasn't the type to articulate her feelings in any detail. But I think she was glad. Maybe not so much for his having been sorry in the end, as that it was proof to herself that she had been able to forgive. At the very least, she was satisfied.

Your mother has been taking this crap for decades. If at the end of it she is left with nothing but rage and hatred, what kind of outcome is that for her?

At the moment, she must still be incredibly stressed and sore about his very recent actions, and it's actually pretty healthy that she is angry. But it's the disease that forced this crisis, and it would be a pity if it were allowed to decide what her long, long marriage amounts to in the end.

If I were you I'd get professional help in guiding her in this. Do you have access to counselling? Are you in the UK?
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toomuchtobear Nov 19, 2018
Hello Countrymouse, I do love reading your responses to other questions, including this one. When I read "you wouldn't have the guts" I got a shiver. I had heard so much about guts growing up, I can imagine that man's tone as my father's. "Gutless" was a frequently used word. As was "useless". I am in Australia, and yes I am having counselling myself and I will seek some advice. I think mum was waiting for the call up to visit, often incredulous that he never mentioned her to us. There is possibly still some codependency which is understandable after 63 years. I hope she can accept the very worst of his behaviour as the disease, as I think I have.
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You can reunite them for short,supervised visits. They don’t have to visit for hours on end, or every day. If things start to deteriorate, immediately end the visit.
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toomuchtobear Nov 18, 2018
Thank you, I think we will try a short visit next week
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Bringing them together gives them a chance to reconcile and find peace again. In a new environment, there will hopefully not be the triggers of the former home setting. Comforting each other at this phase of life would be ideal. I’d try it one day at a time. Have others be present or keep them in a common space where others are too so you can test things out with extra eyes as needed. Sounds, based on your description, that it’s what they both need....ie, to be able to love each other again in a healthy way. Best wishes to them both and your whole family.
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Reply to Target456
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Your Dad just didn't get ALZ overnight. Its a gradual desease. Think back, was Dad more unreasonable than usual. Not processing what people said to him. Hard really tell the difference from a narcissist and beginning stages of ALZ.

The decision is your Moms. Take her, leave them alone but be close by, See how it goes. If he gets abusive, then leave.
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toomuchtobear Nov 18, 2018
Hi JoAnn, sadly he has been an abusive, controlling, emotionally damaging husband and father most of his life. But you are right, with the recent diagnosis we realize 5 years ago was a turning point when he started to blame people for everything he couldn't do or learn to do (new mobile phone etc.), Had he not been so frightening to all of us we might have got him help sooner. He is still clever and manipulating, I wonder if this remorseful time and all the tears are a bit of a hook to keep us coming back, but definitely not abusive anymore, I am more worried my mother might abuse him. Stay tuned. I'll let you all know how the reunion goes.
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IF you do take some pix as dad won't always remember it & frame the best so he has it for when he re-asks to do it again

The reason I say 'IF' because it should be your mom's call - by now she should have moved back into her home of so many years because under the law it is the 'matrimonial home' so once he is out she can move back in if it hasn't been sold

She is the 'injured party' here, as you describe, so she should be the one to decide if/when a meeting takes place - your dad should be in agreement but he was the 'transgressor' by throwing her out which he could not do legally even if the house is in his name alone because it is the matrimonial home

If it is his name only have him sign a paper that she has rights to it - do this while he is still able to [assuming he is now] so don't wait for long - if it is both names she can actually sue your dad for any expense incurred by his actions & maybe if it is in his alone she may have some recourse here
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