I'm going to share this story because it's a pretty good example of the elderly narcissist at his best.
This is a pretty typical interaction for my father. While this happened when Damned Old Dad was in his early 70's, it could have happened when he was a much younger man.
So we're at a restaurant: Dad, me, my husband and two daughters, at the time 5 & 7. This is almost a decade before he developed Lewy Body dementia.
We're waiting for a table. Instead of passing the time paying attention to his granddaughters, n-dad starts looking around and notices an attractive, composed professional looking 40ish woman. She's alone. My father leaps up and sits down next to her.
"I just lost my wife," he announces morosely.
The woman nods and offers her condolences. He launches. He tells her about my mother's Alzheimers, his loneliness, his whole life story. Just like that. He leeched onto her and expected this perfect stranger to offer him undivided attention and sympathy in a happening restaurant. It never occurred to him that she probably had a hard day and was hoping for some down time. He chattered on, hanging his head for maximum impact, without asking the lady her name or where she was from. Surprisingly, she didn't seem annoyed.
I was stunned. When we were called to dinner, I walked over to her and apologized. Some might say I didn't have to do that. Some might say it was none of my business.
In the past, n-dad pissed off or offended so many people that it often fell to me to smooth things over. At least, that was the (desperate) role I took on. The first time I remember this happening was when I was a kid and n-dad told some new parents their baby looked like Khrushchev. Their faces fell. I spent the rest of the wedding carting that baby around, gushing he was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.
I was every bit as embarrassed by n-dad's behavior at the restaurant as I was when he dissed that poor baby.
So guess how the lady responded?
She shrugged and said it was no big deal. She explained she was - HAH! - a shrink and used to dealing with "people like that." Then she dug out a card from her purse and handed it to me. "You can come see me some time," she said with a smile. "To help you deal with him."
I didn't do it. Not because I didn't want to, but because we were moving hundreds of miles away. That was ten years ago. I wish I would have pursued this issue much sooner and more seriously.
I spent much of those ten years catering to my leech of a narcissistic father. I allowed him to ruin family vacations and family time. I failed to understand that I'd become a people pleaser who always looked to others for validation instead of looking within. I too easily accepted the opinions of others. After identifying my father as a narcissistic personality and figuring out how to deal with him and me, I've become a much, much happier person. Gone is my own personal struggle with anxiety and hypochondria (more on that another time). And even though he continues to be needy, his needs are much easier to handle now that I've learned to say those magic words: "no," "I will when I can," and "I have to go because the girls/husband need me." Also, just because the phone rings and it's him, doesn't mean I have to answer. I actually learned to use voice mail!