Phase III – Part I

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.

Love, Dad.

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.

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6 Responses to Phase III – Part I

  1. jackie says:

    Wow! I recognized that container——now I see what significance it has for you. Great that you kept it all these years.

  2. There’s a lot more story, in that story. Ceramic containers can hold more than flowers; and colored pencils….

  3. Jill says:

    Each day I open up my email, I smile when I see a post from you. I love reading your stories and even though I have heard a lot of them, your writing puts new life into them. I have seen that container around for years and never knew that’s where it came from. How sweet of your father! I think this was his true self.

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