August 2013. it was a delightfully warm summer day with lots of smiles and laughter ... picnic at the Vets Home!

Ted Barott Ted and Carol Barott

First post: Jan 20, 2007 Latest post: Mar 13, 2014
Welcome to our CaringBridge site. It has been created to keep friends and family updated about my dad.  Ted and Carol (dad and mom) were married on July 10, 1954. They have 6 children; Diane, Valerie, Colleen, Marcie, Scott, and Lisa. Click on "Read Story" link below for more about dad's life.

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As most any visitor to this site knows, my dad is living a very difficult life. He has endured 40+ years in institutions for the mentally ill and nursing homes, due to a life threatening brain hemorrhage he experienced at the age of 30. Emergency surgery saved his life. Even so, his brain was irreversibly injured, which drastically altered life as he knew it.

His impaired brain has imprisoned him such that he is basically unable to speak. And on those occasions that he manages to say a few words, it is often emitted as shouting. Because of the way his brain functions, or rather, malfunctions, shouting seems to be the only way he can get anything said much of the time. Naturally, his unexpected shouting startles, frightens, and sometimes even angers others. Consequently, and which is so unfortunate, they tend to avoid spending time with him. Other attempts to communicate involve shaking his head up-and-down for yes, and side-to-side for no. However, I find that sometimes his head-shaking for yes and no is reliable, and other times not. A lack of coordination and jerky movements make it hard for him to feed himself. He lost his ability to remember most things, as well as bladder and bowel control. The first couple decades of his institutional life were punctuated by occasional black eyes (we never knew from whom … and perhaps precipitated by a sudden shout from dad), combined with daily doses of antipsychotic medications that were regularly increased. Plus, which is still true today, he spent lots of time alone, albeit surrounded by others who, like him, were mostly unable to communicate. He is living a life of uncommon solitude through no choice of his own.

During my childhood, the institutions in which he lived were located a couple hours’ drive from our home, which translated into only a handful of visits each year. At most of our visits, he would struggle to speak, and sometimes managed to utter the following plaintive plea, “Take me home”. As he tried to speak, his eyes searched mine frantically, intently, for some sign that he would soon be headed home. I was, of course, unable to help him, which broke both our hearts. His plea echoed in my mind for many years, until finally, I listened. In January, 2000, I encouraged mom to transfer dad from the local nursing home in Wabasha, Minnesota, to the Minnesota Veterans Home (MVH) in Minneapolis. Because dad had been in the Navy during the Korean War, he was welcomed with open arms at the MVH--Minneapolis. And while it is not exactly home, it is the next best thing.

He has been deprived of being a husband to my mother, as well as a father to his children. In the eyes of most, he is living a nightmare from which there is no escape … except death. Surely the promise of heaven is a given in dad's case. The biblical story of Lazarus, the beggar, embodies that promise … after a life of suffering, the sufferer is delivered by death to heaven. It is a promise I think about often, and tell dad about at every opportunity.

Clearly, watching dad suffer through a life that none of us would choose – challenges my understanding of God, and my understanding of God's purpose for our lives. And while I struggle to understand these complex issues, I spend lots of time reading stories aloud to him. In fact, I have discovered that each story I read provides us with an opportunity to get to know one another better. As he listens and responds with laughter, smiles, tears, and even anger sometimes … we connect. A precious part of dad remains intact despite his impaired brain. And that is who I have grown to love in a way I never thought possible … about which I remind him all the time.