Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Best Christmas Ever

Eileen and Dad
Dad got a lovely Christmas gift when my cousin, Eileen, and my Uncle Jim, came to visit him on the 26th. Dad and my Uncle Jim were high school friends who married sisters: Marion (my mom) and Peg (Eileen's mom). We kids grew up just a few blocks from each other. But when Dad retired, he moved back to his home town of Scranton, PA, and Uncle Jim retired to Florida. Mom and Peg both passed, and it had been a number of years since the "boys" had seen each other.

I worried that Dad wouldn't remember Jim, and, at first, it did seem that way. The name seemed familiar to him, but you could tell the connection wasn't quite being made. At one point, though, we moved their chairs side-by-side for photos and the proximity seemed to do the trick. Dad looked at Jim, leaned over, and said, "Long time, no see, James."

Dad and Uncle Jim
I about broke down crying. Dad sounded just like his old self for a moment there. He used to call my Uncle "James" when he was being playful. And the fact that he knew he hadn't seen him in a long time? Amazing. Just goes to show that you never know how much is truly going on in an Alzheimer's brain.

We had a lovely visit. It was so good to see them. I'm hoping Dad carries the memory of their Christmas visit tucked away in his heart for many days to come.

Some memories:

Mom, the bridesmaid, Peg, the bride.

The sisters, with some of the cousins. (Psst,
that's me in the front in the red.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Super Duper Girl

Lately, during our visits, Dad will fixate on a thought and run with it. Sometimes it seems to be about a military experience (boot camp,maybe), and other times its about a train or bus trip he needs to take. But for our entire visit, he will run that conversation in a loop, like a broken record.

Sis says that Wednesday was a military day. Today, he was going on the trip.

"Where do I get my tickets?" he asked.

"Don't worry about it, Dad. I'll pick them up for you."

"We need to get them quickly."

"I know, Pops. I'm going to pick them up on my way home."

"Tonight?" he asked.

"Yep. As soon as I leave here," I assured him.

"Geez," he said, winking at me, "you're a super duper girl to do that for me."


Later on, after explaining some of the vague intricacies of the trip that were worrying him, I assured him I would help in any way I could.

He then gave me the following fatherly advice:

"Whatever you do, do the right thing, but don't stick the boot."

I think he was going for "Don't shoot yourself in the foot."

I assured him I wouldn't. ;)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Not Quite So Merry This Year

Me and Dad. He always seems
to look tired these days.
Dad's world is shrinking again. Sis and I attended Memory Care's holiday party for residents and family on December 6th. It was bittersweet. I don't think Dad has any concept anymore what "Christmas" or "holiday" means. The hustle and bustle of the party only served to make him uncomfortable and, like last year, he worried that all the noise would bother the neighbors. The live music, even the carols, were nothing more than a distraction to him. By the time the party was over (around 7:00) he was completely done in and ready for bed.

He does have his moments, though, and can still make us laugh. When Santa arrived at the party and we pointed him out to Dad, his comment was, "Good, tell him to come to my house."

The next day was the annual Holiday Craft and Bake sale at the assisted living facility (the proceeds go to the Alzheimer's Association) and I was there with a
Me, Sis, and Dad
vendor table. Mary, Dad's companion three days a week, brought him out to visit with me while she did a little shopping. Afterwards, she bought him a hot dog, which he promptly gobbled down. It tasted so good, he asked for another. It was good to watch him getting enjoyment out of such a simple treat.

It's hard to grasp that Dad will never "celebrate" another holiday or momentous occasion. To him, now, they are just ordinary days.

And I do recognize that it's *me* that is finding this difficult, not him. He can't miss what he can't remember.

But I can.

Dad still loves a good hot dog.

Dad's roommate, Al, and his daughter, Cathy, at the
Christmas Party.