Seven years ago my beloved pop was in hospital and got diagnosed with dementia after a life-threatening fall. Dementia can affect elderly people in the craziest ways and my pop was no exception to this.
He has been told he won’t be able to walk again, he has been told he won’t be able to speak again and that he is basically a sponge, but my pop is the strongest person I know and will battle anything life throws at him.
At 84 years of age he is now walking around causing havoc at the retirement home where he stays. He has his friend who is also named John and they both just sit all day picking on all the staff taking care of them, picking on other patients and eating double servings of breakfast, lunch and dinner. John loves to pretend he doesn’t need his walking frame and can walk to the dining table without it, which is why his current situation has him bed ridden after falling over and breaking his shoulder.
Just because my pop has dementia does not mean that he is a different person. Our whole life he was a grumpy and mean pop, but at the same time a tricky, funny pop that would always tell stories. To this day with everything that has happened to his memory, he still tells all of his grandchildren the story of how he built the Sydney Harbour Bridge all by himself and it took years to build.
Dementia affects the brain, but pop is still everything we remember, plus more. Every time we see him he has a smile on his face, he’s always tricking us and making up little stories, just so he has his voice heard. He’s recently had a fall after forgetting about his walking frame and broke his shoulder. Before breaking his shoulder, he used to run away like he did when everything got too much for him. Dementia can change a person in some aspects, but we love our pop so much that we see right through the changes. To this day John Byrnes is still the same person he was in 1994 when I was born and met him for the first time.
We love Pop and we cannot tell him enough how much of an inspiration he is to all of us!