Forget Me Knot

Forget Me Knot

I remember my dad trying to teach me to tie a slipknot. I couldn’t do it, and he was at the end of his rope! In truth, my inability was teenage defiance disguised as ineptness. I’m sure my dad knew this, but he wasn’t one to give up easily. Dad always insisted he pass his knowledge on to my sister and me. Mostly me. My older sister was already in college, living a new life. 

I think about this time. Watching my dad’s thick fingers work a thin piece of string. I remember my impatience and his frustration. I’m ashamed of that day, regretful of the little tolerance I had for an aging father who knew nothing about teenage girls. We liked malls, hairdos, and hurrying up this knot-tying nonsense. Perhaps this explains why my dad would mumble about his need to tie one on!

In retrospect, my dad taught me that knots create more than a series of tethers and loops. They form the ties that bind, and I would slip away sooner than he saw coming. Just like my sister. Just like my children who are grown, flown, and flying further away.   

Now, whenever I see a string or rope, it makes me think of my father. He can no longer tie anything. Plagued with Alzheimer’s, the disease has stolen more than his slipknot knowledge.

It has him doing the oddest things. Like eating a bowl of Cheez-Its with milk as if it were Cheerios, his favorite cereal. After all, they both come out of a box from inside the cupboard. The disease has him slipping out the front door if we don’t keep watch. The people he once couldn’t get enough of are now who he wants to escape from! Sometimes, he forgets the faces of our family. When this happens, we remind him that he weaved us into a fabric of familiarity that’s neatly tied. Even if we can sometimes resemble a messy knot. 

Once, I was convinced that I had Alzheimer’s! My doctor gently said, “Women of a certain age might forget a thing or two.” I left feeling old but relieved. 

There are days when Alzheimer’s is at its worst. Other days, it sends a surprise of something familiar, and I catch a glimpse of the person my dad once was. It reminds me that while his behavior betrays him, he’s still the same dad. He’s still the same man.

And I still can’t tie a slipknot. But I’ll keep trying because there’s still time to tie together everything of importance. There’s time to say thank you for being the best dad I could ask for before he slips away forever. 

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