Dementia Made a New Man Out of My Dad
Raised in Apartheid-era South Africa, my mixed-race father had no shortage of scars. But as dementia overpowered his brain, I met a man I never knew existed.
Illustration by AJ Dungo
It was a moment of pure delight. My dad got up from his recliner next to the big picture window in the sitting room of my parents’ house. The music that we always played caught his ear, and for some reason he closed his eyes and started to move to the music. “At first, I didn’t know what he was doing,” Mom said to me afterward. There he was, hands by his sides, smiling, and dancing slowly. Mom and I were thrilled. To say this was out of character for my dad would be quite an understatement. Dad had never been one to give way to his feelings or express much emotion. He always seemed to be guided by a fear that others would judge him as somehow wanting, less than others. But here he was just responding to how the music made him feel. Pure and simple.
They say you should always look for a silver lining in dark times. I would have never thought that dementia – the darkest of clouds – could even produce a glimmer of one. Turns out, I was wrong.
The dancing incident oc…