June 20, 2009
Below is an email I received from my sister, who knew it would be hard on me to not be able to visit our Dad, Bert on Father\’s Day. He is 92 and has dementia. He still knows us and lives in his own home with part time care. Alberta visited him on Father\’s Day and took me with her. It was almost as good as being there. Below is the heartwarming story I wanted to share:
I arrived at Dad\’s about 11:15 AM. He hadn\’t answered my phone call giving him a heads up I was on my way. He didn\’t answer the doorbell. I let myself in and found him lying on his side, slightly curled like a child, on his bed. I wondered, then called out. He didn\’t answer. Was this it??? I touched him. He sat up.
\”Hi Dad, Happy Father\’s Day. It\’s your darling daughter Alberta here to wish you a Happy Father\’s Day\”.
\”What do you want to do?\” he asked.
I suggested we go get some lunch in the kitchen. A smile, but tired, so tired, he said, \”I\’ve got so much to do, and not enough time, and I just need to rest some more.\” He looked so weak, fragile, precious…
I told him, \”that\’s OK Dad, you can rest some more\”.
Ed (tenant of our rental house next door) had met me at my car before I went in and told me his washer had died. I told him to bring the wet clothes over to finish. He came in, so I let Dad lay back down as I loaded the dryer.
Ed was interested in the house, so I gave him a tour. He liked the bead board siding in the porch. I showed him the family photos and he started talking about his family. I was about to show him one of Paul\’s (Berts son) books (did you know the Coast Guard has a ship called Bainbridge Island?), and there was Dad, creeping like a mouse, into the kitchen. Kinda scared me…
Ed left and I proceeded to pull the pre-made sandwich from the frig. He ate in his usual quiet, thoughtful, Zen way. I had a yogurt. Finally, I asked him, \”Whatcha thinkin\’ \’bout Dad?\”
He answered, \”I was thinking how I don\’t have many more days left of my life.\”
Whoa. I wasn\’t prepared for that one. Not missing a step I asked, \”Well, does that make you sad, or is it OK with you?\”
\”It makes me sad\”.
I told him at least he was healthy and not in a rest home like Uncle Merrill, and that he was loved and well cared for, and that he had a long and full life.
After that I found Paul\’s new photo book in the office and had him open the card, then the book. It was so funny…he saw the book and I said \”It\’s another book from Paul, want to look inside?\”
\”No, I\’ve looked at it a lot of times already.\”
I got a kick out of it. Inner giggle. Sorry Paul, I can\’t call & tell you Dad really liked the book. He cannot distinguish one from another. Oh well. Getting old gives one certain privileges I guess, like not being polite!
I talked him in to going for a walk. He already had his day-glo vest on. Leslee (his care provider) says she always has him wear it, even over his PJ\’s, just in case he goes on any more midnight walks. She\’s a clever one.
We get outside and use the walker. I notice several places where the cement drops off dramatically to the driveway gravel or dirt. Note to self-call Gabriel and have his guys fill those spots. I totally forget to grab a trash bag, so each and every time we come across something, he goes to get it, and I have to remind him I forgot the bag. Oh well…It\’s a beautiful breezing, warm not hot day. I am at peace walking with my Dad. I notice that now that he holds onto the walker, he doesn\’t always stop and wave to the cars. I did the waving for him. It felt good. I pictured you walking with us. You would have been very happy. We made it to the bridge. He had to stop and rest, catch his breath a couple times. I felt like I had all the time in the world. There wasn\’t one impatient bone in my body. Things were good just as they were.
Coming back, there was a large pizza box that just couldn\’t be left. I put it on the seat of the walker and we proceeded to fill it up with a few bits and pieces. I watched him bend down, holding one hand on the walker. He\’s still quite agile ,and I was glad to see he didn\’t look to me to pick the stuff up. About halfway back, there was a gust of wind and it blew the box off the seat and I chased after everything and got it back on the seat. We had a good laugh.
Once back inside he headed for his chair. Ed came to get his laundry and we discussed the new washer I\’d be buying and when it could be delivered. I called Manuel this morning, he remembered me and said he\’d give me his best $200 machine. I will mail the check and he will deliver it, hook it up and take away the old one Wednesday. No brainer.
Dad was resting in the brown chair in the kitchen, when I noticed his nails needed cutting. I thought of how you would have done that, so I did it. For you, for him. He winced every time I used the clippers whether I \”got him\” or not. It was sweet. Then I filed them. I never noticed what lovely long fingers he has. His hands are dark like an Indian\’s – red brown, spotted, veined, I
took it all in. \”This may be the last time I notice his warm hands\” I pondered. (They were warm). Then I took some lotion and rubbed them. He let his eyes close. I think he likes this part.
I did a couple things, wrote a note to Leslee, washed the couple dishes (he only ate half of a sandwich and was \”full\”).
Then I wrote a note saying what a nice visit we had and had him read it out loud to me. He still reads very well. Slow, but can totally determine what the words on the page are.
I sat and faced him, like you and I did that last time you were here. I told him \”Dad, there\’s no more for you to do. You don\’t have to worry about anything anymore. You get to relax. You\’ve had a long
life, and you are happy. It\’s OK anytime you want to go to Heaven and see Mom and all your brothers and sisters who\’ve already died. That would be just fine.\”
He got one of his quirky smiles on his face and replied \”Well, that\’s a positive perspective!\”
I told him he was the one who taught me to have a positive outlook. He just smiled.
I kissed him on the forehead. For you, For me. And let myself out.
I love you sweetie, thanks for bringing my Dad back into my life.
Received June 23, while anchored at Hiva Oa