Today was my turn to visit Dad. I looked up something fun to do and found an arcarde nearby. That would be fun.
When I arrived they had all been gathered in the dining room of the Memory Care area. I put my face up against the glass and waited for him to spot me. Then, like a child being picked up from school by his mom, he smiled and giggled and immediately ditched the other people at his tabel to come see me... mumbling something like "That is my girl".
Usually in the car I put on his favorite jazz tunes and that transforms into something wonderful. Today, instead, we called my half sister, Kelly, who lives in Oregon. (We had already talked that morning and she is supposed to reinforce to Dad that he lives in a great place and that he shouldn't try to escape.) Dad tells her, "I almost forgot you." I am just happy that he genuinely does seem to know who she is today. Who knows how much longer he will remember her since they never see each other.
The good news is that today is a good day. I can tell already -- I won't have to calm him or answer difficult questions. He is pretty merry. We get to the arcade and it is closed -bummer- so we go over to Ruby's for lunch.
My childhood was spent in Fallbrook -- the avocado town -- so I ordered Dad a guacamole burger and he got really excited. Talking about avocados makes him happy because it is still familiar to him. All the while, Dad is cracking me up. He is so funny it hurts sometimes. Interestingly enough, growing up he had jokes that were dirty or slightly racist and we definitely did not find them funny. (He still makes dirty jokes).
The funny factor comes from the randomness of what he says or the moments of clarity that you don't expect or the old sayings that he makes up on the spot. And it makes him feel so good when he makes you laugh.
After laughing for a few minutes Dad asks, "So when am I gonna die?" Hmmmm. I told him that he is so healthy that he may live for 15 more years (and he will continue to be a pain in the butt). :) He said that someone told him he was dying. Someone probably did, I don't dispute that. He lives with 20 other residents who have Dementia or Alzheimer's -- so there's no question that one of his crazier house-mates probably told him that. I don't know how he drank so much beer his whole life and has turned out so healthy. When I pointed that out to him he said, "I quit that stuff." Right.
Dad loves women. And at Ruby's the waitresses wear those pink and white dresses. After one of them walks by he says with a devilish smile, "Wait, get back here. I wanna talk to you." Good thing she didn't hear him but I am dying laughing because he has his messy guacamole burger that is the size of his head in one hand while simultaneously trying to flirt with the waitress. Who says this guy doesn't have it together?!
When we run out of things to talk about I start pointing out interesting objects around the diner like you would do for a child. Anything to keep him from dwelling on the fact that the place he lives in "locks him up with old people who steal from me". (In his own words). I want to tell him that he takes things that don't belong to him as well, but I refrain. In fact, he is wearing a shirt today that definitely belongs to his roommate Chuck.
After commenting that the 'green burger' 'kicked his ass', we leave to run more errands. I clip his fingernails in the parking lot, he helps me pick out new pillows for my couch, and I take a picture of him wearing these $2.00 children's foam fish sunglasses. (He can't wait to go fishing again. I keep telling him -- Soon!! In June we'll go fishing!)
I take him back to his home -- the part we all dread the most because we never know how he will react. I make him wear his new fish glasses and that gives me a lot of attention which he really likes. Today is a smooth transition. I leave him with all the ladies playing BINGO, which he said he doesn't like playing.
I blow him a kiss and get out of there fast. I feel good. Like I said, today is a good day.