Travels with Dad
—-This is a story of a complex relationship with my father, Al, who I came to love and understand after he was diagnosed with dementia.—-
Phase III began when I graduated from high school, and lasted about 20 years. I quickly got a job, and began supporting myself. I was no stranger to work. I began earning my own money when I was 10 years old. My older brother had a little job in a bowling alley, and I was his assistant whenever he let me. My important, highly paid position required me to empty and clean ash trays, collect garbage, and clean bathrooms. I was eager to work, even at 10, so working right after high school was no stretch for me, and I knew it would promote my freedom.
My first job as an “adult” was as a senior clerk in the emergency department of a regional trauma center. It was a great job! It lasted for 9 years. I learned a lot about healthcare and emergency medicine, but I couldn’t stand the sight of blood. I knew that I couldn’t work in that environment forever. I also didn’t have a long term plan when I started. It was more of a “hurry up and get me out of here” plan that would allow me to leave home as soon as possible.
After a few years at the trauma center, I learned about the profession of Occupational Therapy. I was intrigued by what I understood of it, especially knowing that it was unlikely that blood would be involved. I decided to go to college. I was 21 years old.
I LOVED college! Because of that, I did well and got good grades. The first time I made the Dean’s list, I called my mother and told her. A few days later, I found a delivery of flowers outside my apartment door. I was baffled. I seriously had no idea who they could be from, and why. My boyfriend at the time would have never thought of doing that. Although I love flowers, I was not so thrilled about them as gifts from boyfriends.
I unwrapped the flowers and read the card. To my surprise, it said something like this:
We are so proud of you for making the Dean’s list.
Huh?!?! I was sort of relieved they weren’t from my boyfriend, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
I still have the ceramic container that the arrangement arrived in. I have used it throughout the years for pens and pencils on my work desks. Since my office is now in my car, (I’m a Homecare Occupational Therapist) and I don’t need a pen and pencil container for work, I now use it for my colored art pencils at home. I guess it’s safe to say that I never forgot that recognition from Al.
Hmmm, maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.
But, I still wasn’t ready to spend any unnecessary time with him.