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"Jesus H. Christ in the Foothills"

Posted Jun 28 2012 11:23pm

The other day, Dad disappeared in the direction of his bedroom 11 different times over a 5 hour period. On average, he was back there 15-30 minutes each time. Each time he came back to the living room, he would wish me a good morning, ask how I had slept, tell me how much he liked my “new hair” and then ask me to fix him a bowl of cereal. And each time, I would respond as if I hadn’t heard it all already, time and time again. We were stuck cycling through his version of the movie “Groundhog Day”. For the first time in ages, I was relieved that his Sundowner’s finally arrived to break the spell he was under. I was also very thankful to have my job to go to.

Today was such a good day. I pulled out dresser drawers filled with Mom’s stuff and sat on the living room floor next to Dad and went through it all. We narrowed 7 drawers (full of photos, old correspondence, antique linens, etc.) down to 2 drawers of stuff that will need further perusal. We managed to throw out the rest. We talked and laughed and showed each other the things we found of interest. For the first time, in longer than I can remember, Dad was clear. He was alert and aware. We finally managed to accomplish something that has needed doing for over 2 years. As I write this, I am already clinging to the warmth and clarity we shared today. I wish it weren’t so fleeting.

The setting sun is the enemy once again. As the sun sank slowly in the west, Dad became more and more confused. He was shocked to learn that Richard lives here and that I am his wife... over and over again we went over it and, over and over again, he was shocked. He got me to call Richard twice so he could talk to him. He insists that nobody told him that Richard lives here and that it’s been months since he has seen him (he sees him every day!).

Apparently my being agitated causes me to count things because I seem to be all about numbers tonight. Dad opened the front door and stepped on the porch 7 times looking for “Richard and his wife”. He is excited because he will finally be meeting his daughter-in-law! At one point, he stumbled on the threshold and I reached out to steady him. With surprising strength, he knocked me backwards. I lost my balance and tumbled backwards over an ottoman landing in an inelegant heap on the floor. To which he exclaimed, “Jesus H. Christ in the Foothills”. In total, he said it 51 times between dinner and going to bed. As a rule, this particular expression is reserved for times of extreme stress. Obviously, tonight is beyond stressful to him. He sat down and rose from his chair (which is getting increasingly more difficult with each passing day) 16 times in 2 hours. I have never seen him more restless than he was tonight.

When he was finally ready to call it a night, he came to me and kissed me goodnight. He turned toward his room but only took a couple of steps before he turned around and came back to kiss me goodnight. He then, made his way halfway across the room before turning back, exclaiming, you guessed it, “Jesus H. Christ in the Foothills”! I rose and made my way to him, gently turning him back toward his room. He kissed me for the third time before finally making it into the hallway.

“Goodnight, Dad. I love you!” I called after him.

“Goodnight, Sweetheart,” came the reply. “I love you, too.” He stuck his head back around the corner and said, “Let me know when Richard and his wife get here, will ya? I need to let him know I love him, too.”

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