Easy Spicy Lasagna in Memory of Dad

 Spicy Lasagna by Cravings of a Lunatic

 There’s a couple of days on the calendar each year I dread.

There’s no way around them. I wish I could pretend they don’t exist.

But they do.

And that sucks.

March 5 is the day my Mom passed away in 1984.

May 7 is the day my Dad passed away in 2007.

wrote about my Dad last year.  I also wrote about my Mom last year, and did a huge multi-blogger memorial for her this year.

I was going to do the same for my Dad  but my life is so in flux and high stress right now that it seemed doing it more subtle was the way to go this time. I love multi-blogger events, and participate in them often. But the thought of adding any more “to do’s” right now would just send me pitching over the edge.

So I’m flying solo for Dad’s day today. Which when you really think about it seems appropriate. My Dad was a bit of a lone wolf. He was a tad anti-social most of the time. So this probably suits him better.

Just me…

and him…

and all of you reading.

Yah, he is likely rolling over in his grave knowing his little girl is on the interwebs, talking about him, posting pictures of him. He’s likely going to haunt me for this one.

Lunie's Dad

One of my all time fave shots of Dad! It’s amazing how many photos we have of us sitting on the edges of cliffs and mountains. We’re lucky to all be alive!

My Dad was an odd fellow. He came off very grumpy and curmudgeon like. Yet deep down he was a giant softie. But like really deep, deep down. You had to dig a little.

When you did the payoff was spectacular.

My Dad and me got to really know each other beyond the surface stuff when he got sick. In Fall of 2006 he called me to ask if I’d take him for a test. He was not very forthcoming about it all. But I knew he hadn’t been feeling well and something was up. When he called a second time I forced myself into the doctor’s appointment with him only to be horrified they were draining his lungs and talking about what Dad called the “C” word. By November it was tons of appointments and tests. By December I was with him about 20-22 hours a day. By Boxing Day he got word it was in fact the “C” word, he had terminal lung cancer. Time was short.

He tried chemo, which almost killed him. He ended up so sick he was admitted to the hospital for 2 weeks. The bottom line was he was not responding well to chemo and after 2 rounds it was decided not to continue with it. The doctors wanted him to do radiation, but he refused. So we made plans to bring him home to spend however much time he had in his own home. They told him 3 months. He died almost to the minute of that timeline.

I was blessed to be able to be a part of the process. I know most people will find that hard to fathom, but it really was a blessing. I had a very volatile and complicated relationship with my Dad. Much of that stemmed from how he treated my Mom. I was still very bitter and angry with him. So during this incredibly emotional time we made peace with things, talked things out, came to understand each other and finally accept one another, flaws and all. It was not an easy journey. My dad was a hard man, prone to cruel remarks and lashing out at people close to him. Yet I wouldn’t trade that time with him for anything, or change anything about the way it all went down. All those hours spent with him were spent talking. And I’m ever grateful I got to know the man beneath that grumpy exterior.

After Dad passed I was in charge of cleaning out his house, I now live in the house my parents built, and both passed in. I came across so many things my Dad kept that just flew in the face of his grumpy persona. I learned he kept every single card and note we ever gave him. Even silly ones like “gone to work, do we need milk?” He also kept every single gift us kids gave him. Even the ones he hated, like the year I thought he would love a machete for Christmas. Um, yah, true story.

He kept every photo, note, card, gift and memento like they were a timeline. And they really were. Looking at them all laid out and seeing his life in sentimental technicolor was truly amazing.

I was able to read letters his own father wrote to him while he was away at war. They shook me up something terrible, I came to realize where my Dad’s hard exterior came from. I always thought my Dad was a mean person, but once I knew why he was that way I was able to understand him better. That was life altering for me.

My Dad taught me many things as a kid. He taught me even more as an adult. I learned I had to let the past go and move on. I could stay bitter but to be quite frank, that meant I would wind up like him. I think both he and I were determined that was not going to happen. So we hashed it out, talked about the painful stuff, the things you don’t want to talk about. We forgave and we put it all in the past. Both he and I were able to spend the last weeks of his life at peace with each other. It was the best and worst time of my life.

Lunie's Dad

Dad doing what he loved most!

One of the many things I remember about my Dad was how much he loved food. This man could eat, and he loved his treats. We always called his middle area his ice cream belly. Most men have beer bellies, Dad an ice cream one. We lived a couple of blocks from Dad so I was around a lot to cook. One thing I was asked to make often over the years was Lasagna. It was the most requested dish by Dad. He had some tummy woes, like me, that worsened as he got older. Yet he would always request lasagna, and on occasion he threw caution to the wind and he’d ask me to make my spicy version. It’s something we’ve modified over the years. Lasagna was one of the first things I learned to make. I make many versions. There’s the regular version, the spicy version, the meatless version, the veggie packed version, the long and slow version, and Dad’s personal favourite The Spicy Version. We would all lay around after holding our tummies and stand up wind of each other. But we all loved to eat like little piggies when the spicy version made an appearance.

If I had to count how many lasagnas I made for my Dad over the years it would like be triple digits. You figure at least 6 lasagnas per year, for about 25 years. That’s a lot of lasagna. I’ve gotten good at them. Some are pretty and stacked to perfection. Some are down and dirty, oozing with cheese and sauce. Dad liked the down and dirty versions. The more it slid around on the plate the happier Dad was. More meat, more cheese, more sauce, he loved it that way.

So this one’s for Dad.

I had two helpings in your honour dude. Then sat with the family down wind enough to be a perfect ass, just like I was taught. Miss you, you grumpy son of a bitch!

Spicy Lasagna by Cravings of a Lunatic

Easy Spicy Lasagna in Memory of Dad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Two 9 x 13 casserole dishes

Depends how hungry you are!

Easy Spicy Lasagna in Memory of Dad

Easy and satisfying lasagna with a bit of heat to it. This recipe will impress your guests!

Ingredients

  • 1 package of lasagna noodles, cooked al dente (do not use oven ready, they blow)
  • 3 jars of pasta sauce (650 ml)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 4 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 bay leaves, to be discarded after simmering sauce
  • 3 to 4 shallots, diced, cook in the microwave for about 30- 40 seconds till soft
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced, cook in the microwave for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes till soft
  • 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
  • 5 to 6 cups of mozzarella cheese, grated ( I am seriously partial to the pizza mozzarella, even on lasagna)

Instructions

  • This will make two 9 x 13 pans, two layers deep
  • Preheat oven to 375 to 400 depending on how your oven works. I set mine to 400 degrees F.
  • For the noodles:
  • Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil on the stove.
  • Once it's boiling, add some salt.
  • Toss in your noddles, I find alternating the way they lay helps. Allow to cook according to the package minus about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Drain, pat dry and get ready to line the pan
  • For the sauce:
  • While the water is cooking for the noodles cook your ground beef in a skillet till brown, and juices run clear. Do not overcook, it keeps the flavour from getting in there.
  • In a large dutch oven combine the sauce, sugar, cooked ground beef, spices, bay leaves, shallots, onions and garlic. Stir and cook over medium heat till it boils. Let it bubble like that while stirring for about 3 or 4 minutes, reduce to simmer and allow to cook until the noodles are done.
  • Once finished you need to take out the bay leaves and throw away.
  • Putting it all together:
  • Spray your casserole dish with non stick spray.
  • Scoop about 2 tablespoons of sauce into each pan to line the bottom thinly. This helps keep noddles from sticking to the bottom and getting a wicked crispy bottom.
  • Depending on your brand of noodles you should be able to use 4 or 5 noodles per layer. I was able to use 5. So I lay three, then place two more on top.
  • Toss a bit of mozzarella cheese on top of the noodles (trust me!)
  • Spoon 1/4 of the sauce over that layer. Spread evenly
  • Toss one fourth of the parmesan cheese over top. (trust me!)
  • Toss about 1/4 of the cheese over top.
  • Lay another layer of noodles.
  • Then another thin toss of mozzarella cheese. (trust me!)
  • Then another layer of sauce.
  • Then toss on one fourth of the amount of parmesan cheese (trust me!)
  • Another layer of mozzarella.
  • Now repeat with second casserole dish, or if you're like me you can layer them at the same time so you can divide evenly.
  • Now place in the preheated oven.
  • Cook uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how golden brown you want the top. It's a good idea to start checking at 10 minutes since every oven is different and all cheeses vary depending on moisture content.
  • Remove from oven.
  • Grab a spatula and wish for a clean slice.
  • Serve with a big old "my tummy hurts, but in a good way| smile!

Notes

Okay here goes:

This is a quick version so it's not scratch sauce. Unless you keep extra jars of homemade sauce around. I often do, But when I don't have them on hand and I need a store bought one I tend to like Classico. Ragu is too watery for me, Primo too chunky for me, and Batali's is too pricey for me. You are not an evil doer if you use jarred sauce. Don't let foodies make you feel bad. You're busy, it's totally cool to cut corner when you need to!

If you need a homemade version I'll list one in the post.

While I love making my own soffritto most days for that sweet flavour, if I'm busy and need a quick sweet sauce I use sugar to sweeten it. You can dial the amount down, or amp it up. Again, it's not a crime not to make a soffritto.

If you want a good bolognese there's one listed in the post though.

I like spice. This is dialed down so I don't injure any of my readers. It still might be too much for any wimps among the group. It's okay if you're a wimp. I am with Mexican food so I can relate. Adjust your spices as you go. You can also add more, but you can't subtract so start slow and build.

Yes I use parmesan in my lasagna on occasion. If any Italians want to arrest me, feel free. Just make sure you have Mario Batali on my jury. He's my idol.

I completely love the pizza mozzarella out right now. We buy Saputo and swear by it. It's great on pizza and lasagna. Trust me!

You can cook this at 350 for 20/25 minutes if you want a longer, slower cook time. You can also do this in the microwave if you like, I grew up always cooking ours in the microwave. The cheese gets bubbly without getting brown.

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 Spicy Lasagna by Cravings of a Lunatic

Okay here’s where I admit I’m a total lasagna whore. If you are a regular reader you know it’s a favourite around here. I’d almost feel bad about it but I’m too busy shoveling lasagna into my pie hole.

It’s okay, you can be a lasagna whore too. I shall lead the way to lasagna utopia. You just may need to roll me through the gateways,  m’kay.

Here’s a list of how many ways I’ve cooked it up for you since blogging:

Lasagna Soup by Cravings of a Lunatic

Lasagna Soup: click photo for the recipe!

Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup, browned with a blow torch by Cravings of a Lunatic

Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup, browned with a blow torch: click photo for the recipe!

Skillet Lasagna by Cravings of a Lunatic

Skillet Lasagna: click the photo for the recipe!

 

Mile High Lasagna by Cravings of a Lunatic

Mile High Lasagna: click photo for the recipe!

Kim's Essex County Famous Lasagna

Kim’s Essex County Famous Lasagna: click photo for the recipe!

Great Sauce Recipes for you as well:

Bolognese Sauce: this is my all time fave slow cooked sauce. It’s divine and worth the effort when  you have time. Just click the name of the recipe to get to it!

Slow Cooker Red Sauce: this one is low and slow, very good. Just click the name of the recipe to get to it!

Simple Sauce: this one has missing photos but it’s a great basic sauce to use. Just click the name of the recipe to get to it!

I just love Italian food. Whether it’s a recipe you spend all day tinkering in the kitchen over, or something fast and easy. It’s all good to me. As long as it tastes out of this world and is smothered in cheese I’m a happy girl.

Let me know if you try this out. It’s such an easy and wonderful recipe. Just remember to taste as you go. It’s quite honestly the best way to learn to cook. You make small adjustments as you go and the perk is you get to nosh as you cook. It’s win-win.

So thanks for visiting me on this bittersweet day. I really wanted to do a fundraiser for hospice in Dad’s honour but would rather do it when I have time to plan it properly. So I may do something like that down the road. For now I just wanted to share my memories and my recipe with you.

Lunie and Dad

Me and Dad on my wedding day!

For any of you who have lost parents, or any one who has lost someone they love to cancer please feel free to share your story with me today. If you aren’t comfortable enough to leave a comment feel free to email me at cravingsofalunatic @ gmail (dot) com. We are all connected by this crazy, stupid disease. One day I hope they find a cure. Until then we can all just try to support one another and help those fighting their battles with it.

See you soon.

Toodles and smoochies! xx

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. 1

    No story, just hugs. Beautiful.

  2. 3

    Lovely tribute to your father. He reminds me of my ex . Who is still waiting for me to change my mind and go back.

    I love gooey lasagna

  3. 5

    Ohhh your Dad seems like a sweet Guy and I love the picture with him and the Northern Pike. I am terribly sorry for your loss, I know your Dad and Mom are proud of you!

    Your lasagna sounds and looks absolutly amazing.

    • 6
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks, he was a character but looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.

      Thanks. It’s a family favourite.

  4. 7

    Sending you lots of hugs and love today, Kim. Your dad sounds like he was a real character, and I’m so glad you two had a chance to make peace with each other and even get to know each other better before the end… it’s not much of a silver lining, I’m sure, but it’s still something to hang onto.
    Keeping you in my thoughts. xo.

    • 8
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks Izz. I am so grateful I got to know him better. Getting the chance to make things right in life is so important. xx

  5. 9

    Kim, what a tough month for you. I loved reading about your mom and now your dad. I have long ago decided that without our parents flaws we wouldn’t be the people we are. You can choose to embrace what they gave you or you can choose to change what you didn’t like. Either way I believe they did the best they can. How close you must have become in those months and how good you had that time to discover each other. No go eat your lasagna. It looks great!

    • 10
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      I think the same way, I would not be me if they hadn’t been them. Simple and so true. I’m so glad I was able to help him through his illness. It’s the hardest but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

  6. 11

    Really good recipe. And a superb tribute to your dad. Very touching – thanks for sharing parts of both your dad and yourself with us.

  7. 13

    Aww, Bestie…. What a great tribute to your fish and lasagna loving grumpy guy. I’m glad that you were able to put some peace between you before he left this world. There’s nothing tougher than regrets <3

    • 14
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks so much Becca. I am most grateful I got to make things right with him. I think everyone deserves to die at peace with things.

  8. 15

    First off, I’m so sorry for you loss Kim. I know the pain never goes away, but it does get easier to manage with time, lots of time. You’re Dad seemed like such a cool dude :) *HUGS* My Daddy passed away May, 13th 2007. Our Dads passed within days of eachother, I didn’t know that :( I’ve been going back and forth with whether or not to do one of my Dad’s favorite recipes, and you’ve really inspired me to be strong enough to go ahead and do it. Thank you fo sharing such a lovely and touching post, I know your Pops would be proud! *hugs* again and I hope today goes over as smoothly as possible for you. You can find me anywhere today on G+, FB, email etc if you need to chat, much love from me to you girl! Hang in there :)

    • 16
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks Niki. I’m so sorry for your loss as well. Losing parents is hard. No matter how young or old we are we’re always little kids when it comes to our folks. I hope you shared one of your dads recipes and your story. It’s very cathartic to put it out there. Not easy, but very therapeutic.

  9. 17

    Beautiful story. Beautiful lasagna. You said it all.

  10. 19

    KimB doll, I’m so glad you had quality time w your dad.
    And this lasagne is such a wonderful way to keep him alive!

  11. 21

    I haven’t lost a parent (yet) but came here just to say I loves ya. XO

  12. 23

    Nice story, Kim. Sorry for all the sadness and the reality of life such as it is. I know it’s lonely with both parents gone as mine are. We keep plugging along and do our best. Have a super-duper day and smile alot.

  13. 25

    A beautiful commemoration to a man who sounds like a wonderful father. This lasagna is perfect for him :)

    Hugs
    Uru

  14. 27

    What a wonderful tribute to your dad. I’m sending you big virtual hugs because I know how it feels. I lost my dad in October 2012. I did a tribute to him for the following father’s day on my blog and I write about him often in my posts. He loved food and to cook and I learned so much from him.
    I’m sure your dad is looking down and smiling big with pride at you. It’s so wonderful we get to record our memories on blogs so it will be there for future generations.

    • 28
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks so much Renee. I am so sorry about your loss as well. My heart goes out to you. Losing a parent at any age is horrible. Thankfully we have memories. Not the same but I’m grateful for mine. Much love to you my friend. xx

  15. 29

    I am sorry for your loss and will forever be a loss. (for our family it is March. My dad died March 31 in 2008 and my mom March 28 2009…to ice the cake a first cousin died in March 13 2010. Wonderful memory you have…thanks you for sharing your Lasagna recipe it sounds great…

    • 30
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks so much Jane. My thoughts go out to you for your losses as well. I am so sorry you lost your folks and your cousin. Big hugs to you. xx

  16. 31

    A beautiful tribute to your dad. You’ve shown great courage and understanding and I suppose that is part of the journey…
    as is eating! Great looking lasagna Kim. I do a ‘spicy’ version myself using Italian sausage. There’s another style to add to your growing list.
    hugs
    B

    • 32
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks you so much Bernice. I am so grateful to have had that time with him.

      I love Italian sausage, it’s so yummy.

  17. 33
    Jeanine says:

    Awesome Kim.You described him wonderfully.Sorry you had to go through the death of your parents but it has made you stronger and you always will have the memories.I am so glad that I am part of some.I am happy that I knew him and was able to get past his hard exterior to get a smile and a conversation from time to time.I miss running into him at the grocery store.Growing up together gave me a lot of memories that I will treasure.I’m here my friend.

    • 34
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks so much Jeanine. I know he loved you like family. Not many people could break through his tough exterior. You were one of the lucky ones.

  18. 35
    Gail H. says:

    Loved your post! I lost my Dad 1 1/2 years ago, and my Mom 3 weeks ago…there’s just something about not having parents anymore…but I’ve been so lucky to have them both at 60…the day I’m dreading most is this coming Sunday :(

    • 36
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Oh Gail I am so sorry for your loss. Losing parents is never easy, no matter our age. I get really edgy on their birthdays, the days they died and mothers and fathers day. Even being a Mom I still sort of hate Mother’s Day. I’ll be sending lots of love and positive vibes your way. Thanks for sharing your story. xx

  19. 37

    Beautiful story. Now I have a lasagna craving :)

    We are definitely soul sistas…. My Dad passed away from Cancer and May 7th is his birthday.

    sending out hugs, love and even some fat smiles out today xxxxoxoxoxox

    • 38
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Oh wow, that is spooky. I swear we are so connected in so many ways. One of these damn days we need to meet in person woman. I can’t wait for that day.

  20. 39

    Sending so many positive thoughts your way today. <3

  21. 41

    This was a wonderful post, Kim. Big hugs from the whole team here.

    -Andrés

  22. 43

    I’m so sorry about your loss Kim, but so grateful that you opened up so completely and shared so much. I’m sure it’s bittersweet to live in a house where you stumble upon memories and reminders of him often. This lasagna looks amazing, and I totally see why he loved it!

    • 44
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks Kayle. Living here is interesting. Some days I’ll come across something by chance and it just blows my mind. It adds a whole other level to mourning, but at the same time it’s so comforting. Not going to lie though, sleeping in the room they both died in when we moved in on Halloween was a little freaky.

  23. 45

    Lady… first of all BIG HUG!! This is such a incredibly sweet tribute to your father… reading about your Dad reminded me of my relationship with my own father. He is your proverbial grumpy old man… but a softy (just like your Dad). When I read about you finding all the cards and notes your Dad kept, it reminded me that while helping my parents move from their own home into my sister’s house, I found cards and letters that we had given him. I never knew he kept them. He still is quiet and reserved… but I know now that he still loves us (in his own way). I am so glad you and your father were able to mend your relationship in the end. The journey may not have been easy, but your relationship ended lovingly and strong. I loved all the photos of your Dad and I don’t think he would be angry you are sharing this with the world at large…it’s just proof on how much he is loved and missed by you.

    Take care today and eat another helping of this delicious looking lasagna (upwind). You got me to laugh and cry in this post. :)

    • 46
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Thanks Ramona. I still pull that binder out with all the cards from time to time. It makes me so sentimental to see how he saved all those things.

      I’m sorry I made you cry but happy I made you laugh. Much love to you. xx

  24. 47

    oh Kim – I just want to give you a hug. I am sorry for your losses, and comforted by your story of your dad.

    I am going through a very similar time with my dad. End of 2011, we found head and neck cancer. I have been by his side ever since – driving to doctors appointments, daily trips to chemo and radiation, driving separately to meet Dad for these more recent appointments, because he needs ambulance transport. We now have Dad back home at his house (two minute drive from my own), he is under the wonderful hospice care and round the clock nurses I’ve hired… so I no longer have to be caregiver, I am just here. I’m sitting right next to him now – we are watching Days of our Lives. :)

    My relationship with Dad has not always been a close one – there was a good 15 years where we did not talk much at all. About 10 years ago we reconnected (that was a difficult conversation but one I insisted on), and we had many great years since – including these last couple years. It is a different relationship now, but one I am happy to have. I feel grateful to have the time with him now.

    thank you for sharing – like I said, your similar story brings me comfort now. I loved reading this and seeing the photos – happy times.

    • 48
      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Kristina I am so sorry. I know how hard it is to go through what you’re going through right now. My dad would not let me hire full time help. We tried once towards the end and the nurse lasted one night before he forced me to fire her. I think if you can have full time help it lightens the load a bit. You get to stop being caregiver and just spend time. Which is so important at a time like this. I know it sounds weird but just be in the moment and look at it like a gift. You have all that time to get to know each other and say all things you wanted to say. I figure in a situation like this you can be in denial and be bitter but you lose the chance to talk and bond. Or you can just face the music and accept the situation and try to make the most of the time the person has left. I always tell people it was the best and worst experience of my life. I’ve never been the same since.

      If you ever need to talk shoot me an email or hit me up on G+. I have so much empathy for what you’re going through.

      Oh and seriously, just give in to the emotion of it all. I am normally wickedly stoic and the last couple of weeks I just couldn’t do it any more. It was such a relief to just feel it and let it all sink in, and then let it out. Sometimes falling apart can leadry to great personal growth. I had no idea how much I needed to learn to let go of trying to control everything. Was really eye opening for me on a personal level.

      I wish you comfort through this. Spend all the time you can with him. You’ll never regret it.

      Kim

      ps if you need guest posts to fill the void while you’re busy just email me. I can’t imagine trying to work through this. If you need help just ask, or post on the round up group. People would likely want to help. xx

  25. 49
    Lois Widmer says:

    It’s a blessing when you finally understand your parent (s) as a fellow human being, warts and all. I didn’t get that time with my mom. She died of cancer when I was 16. My dad and I took trips around the U.S. and we talked a lot. Truely a blessing. He died doing what he loved doing, walking in the woods. I’m thankful you got to heal the wounds from your childhood. Also learning how much he loved you. Blessings as you continue to grieve.
    I am looking forward to trying this recipe. It sounds and looks delicious.

  26. 50

    Dear Kim, your story about your dad brought me to tears.

    You know, lasagna was one of the first things I learned to cook when I left home. My dad, in particular, LOVED my lasagna because it was something my mother didnt make (she was always watching her figure, and I think it was probably a little too high in calories, lol).

    As I was growing up, my dad was this grumpy man who spent a lot of time in his shed. He was the one who meted out punishment when my mother asked him to, but I dont think it came all that naturally to him. He really was a grumpy old bugger – intolerant of many things and people, and didnt suffer fools lightly. However, I have many happy memories of us going sailing together, playing frisbee and then as I got older, he was always my “go to” guy when I needed advice about cars, how to fix something (he usually came over and did it for me, lol) and later even house buying advice. I always felt that he understood me like no-one else, that he loved me unconditionally, always, even if he didnt always agree with my decisions and choices in life – and never hesitated to tell me I was being an “idiot” if that is what he felt, lol.

    6 years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimers. As a late birthday gift that year, I took him to see Leonard Cohen in concert. He loved Leonard Cohen and he admired him because he was born the same year and there he was, on stage. Each song, he took out the little notepad and pen from his pocket and wrote down the song title, with my mobile phone lighting the way. This annoyed the people sitting behind us (I was oblivious) and they angrily told me off for ruining their night. I explained that I was just trying to help my dad preserve some memories and then I burst into tears. As I was sitting there sobbing, I felt a tap on my arm, and there was dad, offering me his hanky, like he had done on so many occasions over the years. Dad and his hanky – always there to mop up little girl tears, for wiping hands, for the blood from skinned knees and also could be turned into a mouse on occasion :)

    I graduated from University and moved away. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer years earlier but she was in remission. My parents were ok, taking care of each other. Well, the cancer came back. We lost her in October 2013. Dad went into a secure dementia unit in July 2013 as my mother was too weak to take care of him and he was becoming quite unpredictable.

    I got my father a place in a nursing home 5 minutes up the road from my house and with help from my daughter, two weeks ago I flew the 2000km to go and get him. He enjoyed the trip although he was terribly confused and now I can see him whenever I like. His memory is completely gone, he has no idea that I am his daughter nor my name but he KNOWS that I am important to him, and still calls me by my childhood nickname. He always returns my hug and kiss when I see him and when I go, and waves enthusiastically at me when I drive off. He breaks my heart, every time, but I am SO grateful that I can spend time with him. He gave me love and support when I needed it, its my turn now.

    I am going to make your version of lasagna and take him some, he will like that :)

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      Kim Beaulieu says:

      Monica, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. I am so touched you shared your Dad with me, it’s always so wonderful to learn more about people and their families.

      I watched my Dad slip into early onset Alzheimers because of his cancer. He only struggled for a short time, but it broke my heart daily. I feel for you and what you’re going through. It’s so hard to watch parents go through the ageing process. I cannot even imagine how hard this is for you. Just know there’s someone out there who cares and feels for you.

      I hope you can spend lots of time with your Dad and that you make some more memories for your family with him. I think sometimes they forget who we are but deep down they remember they love us. And that becomes enough. I never regret the time I gave to my own Dad. It wasn’t easy, in fact it was beyond difficult, but it was worth all the hardship and heartache just to spend time with him. I am eternally grateful for the time we had.

      If you ever need to talk just email me. I know it helps to have someone who has lived it to listen. I’m here if you ever need an ear.

      Give your Dad a hug from me. I hope he loves the lasagna and maybe it will spark a memory or two. xx

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