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.—-
Travels with Dad started in September, 2000. During weekends for the 4 years that followed, my father did everything that I did. Whatever I had planned, he happily went along with me. I never modified my schedule or missed out on doing something because of him. All of my friends knew that where I went, Dad went. We were never at a loss for things to do or places to go. If there wasn’t something special going on, we would take a ride, go grocery shopping, go to the mall, catch a movie, or spend the day at my house watching the Fiore Family video that he and Mom put together years before, and that Dad narrated. He helped me with little chores around the house like sweeping and raking. He was my expert assistant in the grocery store, and he gladly walked along when I took the dogs out for their exercise.
Dad really thrived when we were with other people. He attended graduation parties and picnics with me, as well as birthday parties, soft ball games, and street festivals. We also went to wakes and funerals together, and he “assisted” me when I was selling a house.
My friends all seemed to like Al, and he enjoyed their company. Friends and relatives knew that if they invited me to do something, Al was going to be with me. He enjoyed being with people so much, and it was a joy watching him interact with people, or just look content at being present and involved.
The four years that I spent with Dad were very special. He was so easy to be with. I found myself looking forward to weekends….not for the traditional reasons people look forward to weekends, but because I was going to be with Dad.
After having reflected on who this “new” man was, I concluded that this was the “real” Al…the Al that didn’t have the worries and responsibilities of working and raising a family. The Al who wasn’t able to recall all of the adversarial times we had through the years. The Al who seemed to enjoy life at its core now, without out all of the things that often distract people from having fun…………The Al that I came to love and understand after he was diagnosed with dementia.