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.—-
We were sitting in a small funeral parlor, Mom, Dad, and me, listening to the pastor talk about a life well-lived. The eulogy was about a wonderful woman, who was the grandmother of a childhood friend. We were comfortably sitting on the sofa in the back of the small room, surrounded by grieving family members and friends of the deceased.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Al reaching into the bowl of potpourri that adorned the ornate coffee table in front of us, and bringing a big piece that looked like a pink potato chip to his mouth. The only audible noise in the small room at that moment was the pastor’s voice, and Al fishing for the best looking pieces of stained matter, and his crunching. I was mortified. I breathed an alarmed uh-oh, tapped my mother, and then tried to wrestle the next “chip” out of his hand, without causing too much of a disturbance. It wasn’t working. All eyes turned to us, and witnessed Al’s lips turning red and blue with each piece he popped into his mouth.
While my body tensed up at this sight, and my problem solving skills were in high gear, I used the rest of my energy to keep from laughing! He we were, in a solemn situation, and Al’s child-like behavior prompted him to have a snack instead blending in with the group in a quiet respectful manner.
Thankfully, the services ended shortly after “snack-time” began, and aside from stained lips, Al survived without any noticeable complications. His lips and tongue returned to their natural color the next day.
This wasn’t the first wake/funeral that we took Al to. He certainly couldn’t be left alone, and it was virtually impossible to find someone at such short notice to sit with him at home. And, even if we could find someone, no one knew him like we did, and was able to manage him like we were, so it was just easier to take him along. Over time, we learned hard-core lessons that unpredictable things could and did happen. This day was no exception, but this one left us laughing and joking about the alternative uses for potpourri.