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.—-
Shortly after graduating from college, I needed a place to call home. An in-law apartment that’s attached to my parent’s house had just become vacant. With reservations, I asked my parents if I could move in. My reservations were in the form of fear, because everything with my father was “NO!” From an emotional perspective, it was just plain risky to even ask, and I also wasn’t sure I wanted to be so geographically close to him again either. I asked anyway.
To my surprise, he didn’t say no. And he also made it clear that if I wanted to live there, there was no free ride. (I hadn’t expected one) I had to pay the same amount of rent that the previous tenant had been paying. I agreed.
I worried, though, about the resurgence of parental rules…..more specifically, Al’s rules. But, I reasoned: I was 28 years old and paying rent. What rules could he possibly impose upon a rent-paying adult?
Oh, but he found something, and he imposed it.
The rule was: “No over-night guests!” Although I didn’t have any underlying plans to have over-night guests, I also wasn’t thrilled about having “rules”. As it turned out, my mother agreed with me, and tried to reason with Al. She said to him: “You can’t charge her rent, and then impose a rule like that on her.”
I imagine his response was something like: “Like hell I can’t!”
I had a boyfriend at the time. So my mother took me aside and said: “Have him park at the Grand Union, and sneak him in.” So, that’s what we did. I think he stayed over once. It was a big hassle. Sneaking him in when it was dark was one thing, but sneaking out in the morning in broad daylight was a little trickier.
What I didn’t know until years later, was that every night before going to bed, Al would turn on the flood lights in the front of the house to see how many cars were in my driveway. I hadn’t been aware of the extent of his surveillance. I’m really glad I didn’t know. It would have made me angry.
I’m happy to report though, that I never had a negative encounter with Al the whole 2 years I lived there.