I’ve been thinking lately that I haven’t written about my “Travels with Dad” in a long time. I know I have more stories about the four years we spent together on weekends during the middle and late stages of his Alzheimer’s odyssey. I looked back on my blog to see when I wrote the last story on him. I wasn’t too surprised to see that it’s been a year.
So much has happened during this last year since Brian and I moved in with my mother that it’s taken me so far away from thinking about my time with Dad. But the other night, when I was in a one-time mediation class, a story occurred to me about my father that I don’t remember ever writing about. The meditation instructor said that we may have thoughts and ideas come to us that we’ve had a block about. She was right.
So, here’s my story…
Dad loved to eat. It was always fun putting food in front of him and seeing his reaction. And it didn’t matter what it was. A home cooked meal, a pile of potato chips, a cookie.
As time went on, Dad was losing his ability to follow simple conversations and directions. But he still enjoyed being on the go and riding around in my van. This decline, though, sometimes made it difficult to convince him to get out of the van. So instead of forcing him or insisting he get out, I’d serve him lunch right where he sat. I’d show up at his window with a bowl of chili or a sandwich, and he’d light up like a Christmas tree. I’d go back in the house and check on him constantly to be sure he didn’t decide to get out and wander off. It was always hard, if not impossible, to predict what he would do.
Leaving Dad in the passenger seat seemed like a simple solution to his resistiveness and decline. It was easier on both of us to just go with it. I often went clothes shopping while he sat in the van. The store had to have a big window, and I’d enlist the sales staff to help me keep an eye on him in between them making sales and tidying up clothes racks.
Nothing about Alzheimer’s is ordinary or standard and we somehow knew that. We all just kept adjusting to the subtle and not-so-subtle changes. This concept and practice came pretty easy to me because of my masterful mother. Although I have no doubt that she had her moments of disbelief and sadness that her physically and mindedly strong husband was changing, she always kept things in perspective and never took a defeatist attitude. It was a standard for which I drew my own thoughts, ideas and practice as I set out on my travels with Dad. It always resulted in a win, win for Dad and me.
We funneled our energy into enjoying the travels…even if they were stationary in a driveway or parking lot.