My eighty-nine year old father suffered a stroke four years ago leaving him without use of the right side of his body. Since then he hasn’t been able to stand or walk on his own. Nurses use a lift device with straps that fit under his arms to raise him out of his bed and into his wheelchair every day. He is one of the lucky ones: he can still talk, eat, think… Cognitive skills like friendliness, name recognition, the ability to request what he needs, and wonder where his wife is when she leaves the room are a blessing.
Often confused, he lost his ability to read the great books he once cherished. Now he finds a sense of accomplishment just reading the signs he’s wheeled past in the nursing home hallways.
I am in the process of mourning that he is no longer our family’s voice of reason. Gone are the conversations about current events, sports stats, and history’s significance.
My father’s cerebral approach to life and parenting kept a household full of five daughters, one son and one wife under a dome of tamed drama.
Most times I am very unrealistic about his cognitive abilities. When his voter registration card came in the mail the other day, I talked to him about voting, hoping to rekindle my dad’s interest in politics, particularly with this year’s presidential election.
While I was growing up, my parents were very civic minded, and taught me the importance of exercising my right to vote. They made certain I was sent an absentee ballot while away at college. Election judges always knew my name when I showed up to vote at my hometown’s polling place. My parents were involved in the process: hosting meet-the-candidate parties, posting signs in the yard, and participating in their local political party’s club.
When I explain to my dad that he can still vote even though he resides in a nursing home, he nods his head yes he would like to vote. Still I wonder how this is going to work as he no longer follows the issues or knows the candidates names other than Trump and Clinton. Neither of whom he would like to vote for.
I express to my dad why I think he would like John Kasich: his experience, that he is the most moderate of the candidates running, and on a superficial note, that he is the Governor of the “great state of Ohio” where my dad was born. The only response I get is an apathetic maybe. Can I possibly cast his vote for him based on a maybe?
My dad no longer possess the skills to make the choice, so even with my hand forcing his hand together we could fill in the bubble, or check the box, or tap the screen…
but the answer is: his voting days are over.