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 caught up in the high energy and celebrations that were going on at the Cat’s Meow, a small tavern in town. My work place soft ball team was celebrating the end-of-the season, and invited Al and I because we had attended a few of their games that summer.
Al loved being in high energy atmospheres. This was the perfect place and night for that. He seemed to thrive in these situations, which was so unlike the father I knew growing up. In the earlier years, he wanted things quiet and orderly. So I thought it was a little strange that he loved this atmosphere, but it was fun watching him fade into the crowd, with a little smile on his face, laughing when the crowd laughed, looking endlessly for more fun.
So, while he was immersed in this loud and out of control group, I slipped away to another tier in the small room to chat with my boss Wes and his wife Doris. I positioned myself so I could keep an eye on Al. I had learned some hard lessons that one thing could lead to another with him, and he could disappear into a trouble zone.
So, while I was chatting to them and explaining why I was constantly scanning the room, Al, was also scanning the room, looking for more fun. He ended up spotting me, and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen came across his face. He started waving at me like he was surprised to see me. I played along and waved frantically back at him with a big smile, while clarifying for Wes and Doris that it appeared that he forgot that he came there with me. He made his way through the crowd to get to me, and when we met, we hugged and I made a huge deal out of seeing him. He was thrilled.
About an hour later, we had to go. I still had a 30 minute drive to get him home, and another 30 minute drive home myself. I was tired. But he didn’t want to go. For 10 minutes, I tried to convince him to get up and leave with me. I tried telling him and then pulling on him to get up, but he wouldn’t. He was having too much fun. I retreated for a few minutes, and re-approached him, and in a happy voice with a big smile, I said, “Come on, we have to go” and I held his elbow and gently pulled him up.
It worked. We said our good-byes, and left. About 5 minutes into the drive, I looked over at him and he was fast sleep. I chuckled, thinking that it was I who was tired, and here he was in dreamland.
It was a really fun travel day with Dad, one that will never be forgotten.