Friday Lunch

Every Friday for the past 20 years, Dad has gone to lunch at the same restaurant. It began as a ritual following Mom's hair appointment and we continued to carry on the tradition after she died. Dad lives for Fridays. He may not remember what he did 3 minutes ago, or 3 months ago, or 3 years ago, but he always remembers lunch on Friday at Dayton's. (Okay, so it's not called Dayton's anymore, but he doesn't remember that either.)

Today is was -4⁰ and I had to decide whether or not I should bundle Dad up and bring him out into the elements.  I weighed braving the frigid temperature against the pleasure this outing would bring him and came to the conclusion that 5 minutes of discomfort was worth 2 hours of happiness. Yes, it would have been much easier to stay home. Then again, I bet it would have been easier for Dad to stay home than attend all those orchestra concerts, ballet performances and piano recitals he was subjected to over the years. It's payback time.

Dad couldn't feed himself today and he wasn't able to carry on a conversation, but I managed to get him to smile; twice. Was it worth it? Yes. I suppose that's a testament to how far he has declined; the fact that I consider a smile such a triumph. But, trust me, it is.

After I brought him home and got him situated, I kissed him on the forehead and turned to leave.  He reached for my hand to stop me and formed his first full sentences of the day:
"What day is it?"
"It's Friday, Dad."
"Oh. Are we going out to lunch?"


As I walked out to my car, a woman was bringing her mother into the building. I tried to catch her eye to give her a smile, but she was preoccupied. As she came closer, I understood why. Her mom was crying and repeating, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no."

I was suddenly overcome with the urge to scream at the top of my lungs, "Enough is enough!  God, where the hell are You?!  WHERE, WHERE, WHERE???"  I actually almost did it. I had to grit my teeth to keep the words from flying out of my mouth.

Fortunately, I regained my composure, which is good for two reasons.  First, I didn't want to scare anyone or cause a heart attack and, secondly, I'd hate for people to think I was losing my mind.  They have some vacancies they're trying to fill here and I'd just as soon fly under the radar for a few more decades.


Answered Prayers

I've pretty much given up on the praying thing.  The fact is I just haven't had any luck with it.  I'm fairly certain I've been doing it right - I mean, I know not to pray for STUFF - it's not like I pray to win the lottery or anything.  Well, maybe I did once or twice... Okay, three times, tops...  The point is I knew better.  (But, hey, it was worth a shot.)

I've prayed for guidance; I've prayed for strength; I've prayed for the wisdom to know what to do; I've prayed to end suffering; I've prayed for my family and I've prayed for complete strangers.  The result?  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.


The Third Child

There are three chalk portraits of us on the wall over Dad's bed - each daughter's likeness captured as well as could be expected by an artist working in a local suburban shopping mall in the '70s.   One day Dad was admiring the drawings and then he turned to me and said, "Those are my children.  One, two and three.  One and two were good, but we weren't too sure about the third one."

What?!?  Hey, wait a minute.  I'm the third one!  At first I thought he was teasing me (as he was often wont to do in the good old days) but I quickly realized he had no idea he was talking to me about me.  This was going to be very interesting...

"Not too sure about the third one?  What do you mean, Dad?"
"The third one was quite a surprise.  We only wanted two children.  We didn't want three.  My poor wife."

Oh my!  This was quite a revelation -- and the fact that he was imparting it to ME struck me as incredibly funny.  I started to laugh, but managed to suppress it; this was, after all, a serious conversation.  (Meanwhile, all I could think was how much I wished my sisters were there - they would have been roaring!)

"Well, Dad, it turned out alright though, didn't it?  Having the third one?"
(Okay, so I was fishing...  or maybe just hoping...)
"Hmm.  I don't know," he said.  Then there was a long pause.  (A little too long if you ask me.)  Finally he added, rather resignedly, "I guess so.  There really wasn't anything we could do about it."

Oh, snap!

It took every ounce of strength I had not to fall on the floor in a fit of laughter.  If he only knew!  Later on I called my sisters to relay the conversation and I must say, they were even more wildly appreciative than I had anticipated.  In fact, now that I think about it, their amusement was definitely excessive given the highly sensitive nature of the subject matter...

I always held a sort of  romantic notion of the touching, heartwarming story of the wondrous gift of the third child.  Needless to say, this wasn't it.


Bill O'Reilly

What would happen if Bill O'Reilly's microphone was cut off every time he:
         -started to interrupt
         -exceeded a predetermined decibel level
         -made an inaccurate statement
         -abandoned the subject matter to make a personal attack


A)  Decorum and truth would prevail; it's conceivable an intelligent
      conversation might ensue
B)  The O'Reilly Factor would become The O'Reilly Minute
C)  Bill's head would explode


Dying with Dignity

I understand why family members rarely visit their loved ones in Memory Care facilities; particularly once dementia has erased every trace of the person they once knew.  What's the point?  You are a stranger to them and they are a stranger to you.  You can't have a conversation, your visit will not be appreciated or remembered and it is gut-wrenching emotionally.  But you should do it.  You should force yourself to do it for two reasons:


The Visit

I’m sitting at the stoplight waiting for the light to turn green, fighting the urge to make a u-turn and drive away. I do not want to go in there. This is the point where I engage in the all-too-familiar battle with my conscience.
"Maybe I could put this off for a couple days."
"Don’t be ridiculous; you’re already here."
"I dread walking through those doors."
"Get over it."
"Why do I even bother?"
"If not you, then who?"

My conscience wins again; I go inside.

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