03/05/2014 12:06 pm ET Updated May 05, 2014

Parenting During a Crisis

Elizabeth Flora Ross

I have shared my father's situation. But not everything about it. There are some details I have yet to write about, both out of respect for my parents and to protect my daughter.

She knows what she needs to know about her grandfather's situation. I am choosing to keep certain aspects from her. As much as I believe in honestly, sometimes the truth can hurt. My dad isn't himself at this point. I want her to remember him as he was, and be able to continue to have a good relationship with him for as long as possible.

I can think of no good reason for her to know everything.

I am still very much processing all that has happened, and what it means for our life going forward. The other night, out of the blue, I began to sob and I could not stop.

I hold back the tears a lot of the time, so it was probably good to get that all out. I do not keep my emotions from her. I feel it is important she learn how to process and express her own emotions, so I work to model that.

She knows I am sad. And she has seen me cry. I just don't want her to witness me losing control. I think that could be scary for her.

She seems to be processing it in her own way, too. Yesterday morning, as we were putting on her shoes and trying to get out the door when she suddenly said, "Poor BaBop. He will be sick forever."

I stopped rushing, got down on my knees beside her and said, "Yes, he will have dementia for as long as he lives."

"They can't make him better."

I couldn't quite tell if it was a statement or a question. We have talked about it before.

"No, they can't. I wish they could, but doctors don't know how to cure dementia. The medicine they give him is helping. He's doing well right now. But at some point, sweetie, he will get worse. That is how dementia works."

"And then he will die?"

"Someday BaBop will die. I don't know when. Right now, he is doing well and we will enjoy being able to spend time with him."

She smiled and nodded. And then we did have to rush, to avoid being late. As we drove I asked if she would like to go for another visit with BaBop that afternoon. She responded with a very enthusiastic, "YES!"

We decided to take our dog Shaggy along this time. I'm not sure who was a bigger hit: the cute child or the cute dog. They were both wonderful with the residents.

The entire memory care unit was having an ice cream social, and we got to join them. My daughter discovered some dress up stuff, so we got a little silly and entertained the residents.

Dad was having a good day. It was a great visit. And for that I am grateful.