Community Voices Blog: Love, Adoption, and Memories with Dementia
By: Kay Kickertz (Spirit Lake Sioux) – IA2 Team
Kay Kickertz is Spirit Lake Sioux with a wonderful life story of adoption, love, and caring for her adoptive father, Ervin, who suffered from Parkinson’s and dementia. Despite his issues with memory loss, the memories prevailed within their relationship.
“My favorite memory was being in a lake, and I was real small, maybe 7 or 8 years old, but when you live in Fargo, the lakes in Minnesota is where you went on the weekend. So, we are in the lake & I’m sitting in my dad’s HAND. That’s how big & strong he was. So we are singing too. My dad, bless his heart, couldn’t carry a note if his life depended on it. But sing, he did.”
Kay’s dad was a German farmer who she loved and admired deeply. Kay’s father and mother, Ervin and Eleanor, adopted Kay. Unfortunately, Kay’s mom died young at 56 when Kay was just 17, from cancer.
“He was in hospice for Parkinson’s, leading to dementia. But on his 89th birthday, I went to see him. An 11-hour car ride from, Jimmie (Kay’s partner); little did I know, it would be the last time.”
Before arriving Kay’s stepmom said to her, ” Don’t expect much.” But when I came in, his head raised & he said “My FAVORITE!” He was present all day & the nurses, stepma & my man were all amazed. He ate cake & I sang to him. When I had to go home a couple of days later, I went to say goodbye, he was gone. He Wouldn’t eat, and he didn’t know me. But I HAD THAT DAY!! HIS BIRTHDAY, the last time my daddy remembered me. The happiest day ever.”
Kay’s father Ervin’s birthday was May 25, he passed on July 5. “They can come back for a moment when there’s love.”
Top picture (1) – Pictured: Kay Kickertz, Ervin Kickertz, Jimmie (Kay’s Partner), and Kay’s daughter.
Bottom picture (2) – Pictured: Eleanor Kickertz, Kay Kickertz, Ervin Kickertz, and a fostered child.