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Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s’

February 23, 2015

The story really begins last Friday when I stuffed Dad’s marigold-colored corduroy pants into a plastic bag without checking the pockets.  Later that night I found Dad’s clip, still holding his Twenty-one dollars, at the bottom of the washing machine.  It is the same twenty-one dollars Dad has carried around in his pocket for at least three months.  He lost several silver money clips about a year ago and switched to the basic stationery clip.  Usually, he switches it into a pocket of clean pants after a shower. The room key was part of the ritual until it vanished many months ago.  I knew Dad wouldn’t need money for anything: I let Jane know I had both his pants and his money so she wouldn’t worry about them if she noticed they were missing.

Dad's Twenty-one Dollars that went through the wash

Dad’s Twenty-one Dollars that went through the wash

My normal day to visit is Thursday.  Hardly anything is normal anymore.  I had to go this morning or not at all this week.  I opted to go this morning and drop off the mop and bucket I bought to help keep our shoes from sticking to the bathroom floor.  I arrived a bit before 11 am.  Dad was asleep in his chair, as usual, a cup of coffee beside his chair.  Coffee in a cup and saucer, not a disposable cup.  Dad must have made it to breakfast for a change.  He got up out of his chair, quite easily for a change.  I gave him a big hug.

“How are you, Dad?”

“Not so good.”

Dad always says he is wonderful.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s not good.  I’ve lost my memory.”

“Dad, you lost your memory a long time ago.  Why are you worried about it now?”

“I’ve been writing about it, hoping to figure things out.  This is not good.”  He sat back down in his chair.

I noticed that he looked alert; he looked present; he looked like the Dad I feel I lost a while ago.

He began to tell me the story, in great detail, of the previous twenty-four hours.  He and Jane had attended a President’s Day Event at Washington Crossing Camp Ground, an event that Dad had always participated in prior to his dementia.  At one point during the day there had been a small admission charge for something.  Dad had reached into his pocket for his money clip and found he had only empty pockets … ALL of his pockets were empty; no money, no keys, no credit cards.  He panicked and told Jane he didn’t have any money.  She reassured him that it was okay because she had his money.  He was totally baffled.  He hadn’t remembered giving Jane his money.

He didn’t sleep last night, worrying.  He couldn’t believe that his memory was gone, that he couldn’t remember important things.  He tested himself by naming his children; Louise, Ann, Chris and David.  He tried naming his grandchildren, but couldn’t.  He tried naming his children’s spouses and wasn’t sure if he got them right … or not.  As he was searching his brain for names, he thought of Jack Law (his former brother-in-law) and wondered what had happened to him.

“Did he die? Didn’t he run off with another woman?  Where are my credit cards?  Do you have them, Chris?”

“Dad.  Hold on.  I don’t know if I can answer all of your questions, but I can tell you where your money is.  It’s at my house with your marigold-colored corduroy pants that I took home to wash.  Our dryer broke and I hung them up to dry.  I forgot to bring them with me today. Your money was in a pocket.  I forgot that, too, but I can give you money again and we’ll find a clip.”

Dad's new

Dad’s new “validating” money roll.

Dad began to cry.  “I am so relieved!  I didn’t know what happened.  I couldn’t remember anything.  I thought maybe somebody came into my room and went through my pockets.  I was going to call the police! I am sooooo glad you came this morning.  The only way I finally fell asleep at about 3 am this morning was that I thought maybe I had dreamt that I lost my money; but the dream was so vivid!  Thinking I had only dreamt it allowed me to fall asleep.  When I woke up again, early this morning, I was shocked to see the painting of “Thokes” on the wall and the airplane hanging from the ceiling.  I had no idea how they had gotten there.  I started wondering how long I had been here … a couple of days?  a week?  maybe a month or two?  I got out of bed to check my pockets to make sure that it had just been a bad dream.  But my pockets were empty.  I knew it wasn’t a dream.  I knew that I had lost my memory. Do you think other people know I’ve lost my memory, Chris?”

“Yes, Dad, everyone knows you’ve lost you memory. You lost it a long time ago.  It’s okay.  We all love you very much.  You still beat us in cards!  Your memory doesn’t seem to have anything to do with your card playing.”

“I’m worried that the reason Jane didn’t sleep the other night is that she is worrying about me.  I’m afraid I may never see her again.  She is so special to me!  I love her so much!”

“Dad, Jane loves you, too.  She has a lot on her mind lately.  Of course, you will see here again.  Ann is taking the two of you to dinner tomorrow night for your birthday!”

“Yes, I remember Jane told me about that.”

Dad remembered all sorts of other things, too.  He remembered his table mate, Tom, reminding him to try to get to meals on time.  He remembered Howard hanging up the plane above his chair.  He remembered that the house he and mom built was now two stories high and that the family has three sons.  He knew that the little watercolor on the wall across from his chair is one I did from a photograph of Louise and Ann at Virginia Beach when they were very young.

Dad had been shocked by his empty pockets.  He didn’t know how he could be totally broke.  I remembered the stories Dad told of the farmers in Indiana always having a huge roll of bills in their pockets.  Perhaps having money in one’s pocket validates one’s existence.

“I can’t wait to tell Jane.  I feel as if I have awakened from a long winter’s nap. It’s the most exciting day of my life.  My life is starting to make sense … but how long will it last?”

“I don’t know, Dad.  What I do know is that this is the first real conversation we’ve had in over a year and I am thrilled to be here as a witness of your awakening, even if it’s only temporary.”

“But maybe there’s something I can do about it now that I am aware that I have a brain problem.  I was afraid, when I awoke here this morning, that I may have done something wrong.  Since I didn’t know how I got here, I was afraid I may have done something dishonest and that would be horrible.”

“You’re here, Dad, not because of something you did, but because your brain started to let you down and it is safer for you to be here where we know you are okay when the hurricanes hit.  We know you have three meals a day.  We know that the people here care about you.”

Just then there was a knock on the door.  It was Rita, coming to get Dad to join in the hall walks.  She noticed something different about Dad.  I gave her a short explanation of what I had learned from Dad over the last hour.  She, too, is thrilled.  She will have Meaghan check Dad out to see if the new cognitive program might keep things going for a while.

I couldn’t stay very long and wanted to make sure Dad showered.

“i showered this morning, Chris …. I KNOW I showered this morning.  I realize I’ve probably told you that before without really knowing, but this morning I DO know.”  A huge grin spread across Dad’s face.

“I believe you, Dad.”

“Chris, it’s time for lunch.  Will you join me?”

“I’ll catch up with you in a few minutes.  I bet you haven’t thought of lunch on your own for quite some time. I’m proud of you, Dad.”

After washing the bathroom floor, I joined Dad in the dining room.  I wanted to do cartwheels when I walked through the door and saw Dad chatting away with Tom and John.  Both Tom and John had looks of surprise and pleasure on their faces.

“Your Dad’s been telling us an amazing story.  He says that today is the best day of his life. It’s certainly must be true.  He hasn’t said a word to us for months and he is back to his old self.” On Friday, the conversation had only been between three of us; Tom, John and me.  Today, there were four people participating and Dad had more to say than the rest of us.

At least three other people came over to chat, happy to see Dad alert again.

Wow!!!

When we returned to his room, I asked him if he thought he might want to write something about his experience.

“I certainly do! In fact, I had planned to go out somewhere today and buy a pad to write on, but then I remembered that I have this one and I think it is much better.”  He lifted a few books and pulled out a sketchbook that he had been given to him but he hadn’t used.

“You know, I was really surprised to see that keyboard in my room.  How long has that been here?”

Today was the first time I have seen Dad initiate anything on his own.  Today, he initiated dozens of things on his own.

Awakened from a long, winter's nap.

Awakened from a long, winter’s nap.

I hope that his awakened state will last long enough for Jane and Anna’s family to have a wonderful, 92nd birthday dinner with Dad tomorrow night.

Dad, today was one of the best days in my life, too!  Thank you! I love you.

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February 13, 2014

A splendid day with Dad!  I arrived earlier than usual.  He was asleep in his chair ( no surprise), and immediately perky and pleasant when he awoke.  Without any trouble at all he gathered clean clothes and disappeared into the bathroom for his shower, shave and shampoo.  I’m not sure he shampooed, in spite of me cracking open the door and reminding him.

ink and watercolor drawing of playing cards

Playing Cards – Ink and Watercolor Sketch

I hardly had time to scribble a drawing of Dad’s playing cards before he stepped out of the bathroom clean as a whistle.

Before playing cards I reminded him that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and it would be great if he would write a poem for Jane, suggesting he draw a few hearts first so that he can find his words more easily. With a smile on his face, he picked up his pen, drew a heart with an arrow through it and began to write …

Valentine for Jane

Valentine for Jane

The arrow pierces the heart

But does not break it

Why? — Because it’s

Valentine’s Day

For sweet hearts beloved, —

Night & Day

Wow!

We played two games of Rummy 500: Dad won the first game and I won the second game.  He played remarkably well.  Rather than play a third round, we bundled up and drove to the market to pick up treats for his sweetie!  Dad picked out the best card ever.  He amazes me.  I love him.

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January 15, 2015

An amazing day with Dad!  I didn’t have enough energy and patience to try playing Rummykub with him, but I was determined to get him to write again.

drawing of Dad's room at Chelsea

Dad’s room at Chelsea

Typical resistance to taking a shower … no surprise.  When he came out of the bathroom wearing a clean shirt and smiling, I was ready to challenge him to writing a few words.  My only hope for success was to have him draw something first.  For whatever reason, drawing allows him to access his reservoir of words more easily.  he chose to draw the bottle of cough medicine with the disposable dosage cup turned upside down over the cap.

Dad's drawing of his cough medicine bottle

Dad’s drawing of his cough medicine

Certainly not a drawing that one might see hanging in a gallery, but that wasn’t the goal. When I asked him to try writing a few words, there was no hesitation, no resistance, no excuses.  Dad picked up the pen again and started writing.  I didn’t care what he wrote … he was finding words to write on the piece of white paper!  I thought I might never see that happen again.

Upside – down cup

Capping the bottle

Handy for a sip

In the middle of battle

Ah – ah – ah

Now we go 

To another venture

Either fast

Or slow

“What battle, Dad?” I asked.

“What battle is that”

She asks, quite puzzled.

“The battle of life —

Don’t you see?”

After expressing my delight in the words he found, I apologized for being such an ornery daughter.

My daughter’s not ornery, —

Just very interesting

Only fifteen more pages to go and Dad will have filled his green sketchbook with words and a few drawings.  I thought for sure, after a month of not being able to get him to write at all, the pages would never be filled.  You can’t imagine my joy.  All I need is energy and patience and the pages will be filled.

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Today is Wednesday.  Usually, I visit Dad on Thursdays.  Due to poor connections and even poorer baggage tracking technology, I need to be home tomorrow.  Lucky for me, I visited Dad today. I didn’t want to miss another week of playing cards, walking, making sure he showered and shaved and, or course, forcing him to write a few lines of poetry.  Why was it lucky for me?  Because today the ice cream truck made its biannual stop at Chelsea. Free ice cream for all!  Some of the residents managed to get in line multiple times.  The ice cream lady tried to set the record straight but ended up handing over another strawberry shortcake on a stick.  Dad chose an Almond Crunch on a stick.  I chose an ice cream sandwich.

Dad enjoying his ice cream treat.

Dad enjoying his ice cream treat.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I arrived, Dad was having lunch in the dining room.  John sat across from him reading the newspaper as he ate.  A man I hadn’t met was sitting between them in Bunny’s seat.  He smiled as i approached and introduced himself as Bill.  Bunny had switched to the second serving and Bill had taken her place at the table.  Dad looked pretty spaced out and totally unengaged.  I chatted at him for a few minutes, then turned my attention to John and Bill.  Both were eager to converse.  Bill had retired from the Postal Service in Newark where he managed Overseas Mail Deliveries.  He loved his job and enjoyed his co-workers.  Clearly, his co-workers enjoyed him, too.  He riffled through the storage beneath his walker seat and brought out almost a dozen cards that recognized Friend’s Day.  He showed each one to me with a huge smile on his face.  The messages were caring and humorous.  Most of them referred to him as Willy Wonka.  I was grateful for the interaction as Dad slowly finished drinking his coffee. Eventually, we headed to his room with two bags filled with paper towels, toilet paper and undies.

“Oh, I don’t think I need a shower, do I?  I’m sure I took one this morning.” ….. conversation #23 …. we have it every time I visit.

“We can’t play cards until you have taken a shower AND written a poem.”

“Oh, Chris.”

“Dad, please take a shower.”

He shuffled off to the closet to get clean underclothing before heading into the bathroom.

“Remember to wash your hair with the green shampoo!”

A few minutes later, Dad shuffled out of the bathroom, went to the other closet, the one where his shirts and coats hang.  He placed the clean underclothing on the top shelf and headed back to the card table.

“Dad….. you need to take a shower…. please.”

Conversation #23 repeated again before Dad went back to the original closet to get another set of clean underclothes.  While Dad was in the shower, Dan called from the front desk to let me know the Ice Cream Truck had arrived and would be out front until 3pm.

Eventually a fresh smelling dad in clean clothes and nicely combed hair sat across from me at the card table.  He reached for the cards to deal them.

“Not yet, Dad.  You still have one more thing to do before we can play cards.”

“What’s that?”

“Write a poem.”

“Oh, Chris…. you know that’s not how that works…. ”  Conversation # 14…….

“After you finish writing a poem we can go to the Ice Cream Truck, Dad.”  A puzzled look crossed his face.

“Look through the window.  You can see the truck.  It will still be there when you’ve written your poem.  You can write it about anything, about the ice cream truck, about me forcing you to write poems, about wanting to play cards instead.”  I showed him his green book and how it was almost filled with the poems and drawings he has written over the past few years. I would love for every page to be written on and there aren’t that many blank pages left.  He reached for a pen and began to write.

The Reluctant Poet

The Reluctant Poet

“A poem”, she says

“A poem you must write.”

I guess I better get going

To make the day right.

I gaze out the window

While lounging in my chair

That should yield a good word or two

If I really do care.

And that I do

I can tell you.

Well, will that do?

I guess it must do!

“Great job, Dad.  Let’s go get some ice cream.”

We brought our ice cream back to his room where it wouldn’t melt in the heat of the burning sun.  Dad dealt the cards, Rummy 500.  As usual, he was brilliant, in the lead by more than three hundred points.  Then his luck changed and so did mine.  I ended up winning by a landslide, for a change.  In spite of the heat, I suggested we walk around the pond.  He agreed to going around ” just a few times.”

While I was away, Dad’s physical therapy sessions had been increased from three times weekly to five times weekly.  The positive results were apparent to me.  He stood taller and moved with greater agility.  I tricked him into walking around the pond more than just a few times by distracting him with a drawn out and slightly exaggerated tale of my recent face to face encounter with a wild boar in an olive grove during one of my morning walks in hills that surround Les Bassacs in Provence, France.  I seem to have a knack for attracting Sus scrofa, a species of the pig genus Sus, part of the biological family Suidae.  Dad took it all in stride, delighted that I walked each morning and each evening.

When I kissed him goodbye I told him that Lou and Dave would be visiting in a few days along with Anna and Howard.  He smiled.

“That will be wonderful.  I look forward to it.”

I treasure these days with Dad.

 

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April 17, 2014

No walk today.  Dad had an appointment with Dr. Bagley to have the Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Situ scraped and burned from his arm.

As might be expected when time for a shower is limited, Dad took an extra half hour in the bathroom.  We made it to the doctor’s with four minutes to spare.  We waited another ten before we were called to follow the nurse down the hallway.  While waiting, Dad  reluctantly agreed to draw and write.

Chair on floor, table on wall

Chair on floor, table on wall

Now, how did that happen?

The table ends up?

On the wall

Hmm, hmm

Though unable to comprehend the need for another visit to a doctor, Dad followed directions and climbed into the “procedure” chair.  The lovely nurse lifted the leg rest, bid him “Make yourself comfortable” and left the room.  Dad scowled and called out to her.

“I need this leg rest to be moved out!”

“I’m sorry Mr. Carter.  It doesn’t move out.  You’ll just have to shrink a bit.”

“If it doesn’t move out, then it’s a poorly designed chair.”

Dad trying to make himself comfortable in the poorly designed chair

Dad trying to make himself comfortable in the poorly designed chair

He lasted all of two minutes before flopping his legs off each side of the leg rest.

“It’s a terrible design.  It cuts off the blood circulation.”

Dr. Bagley arrived and the four of us enjoyed a short conversation regarding the chair.  the procedure took less than ten minutes.

Dr. Bagley performing the Scrape & Burn procedure on Dad's arm

Dr. Bagley performing the Scrape & Burn procedure on Dad’s arm

As the wound on Dad’s arm was being scraped and burned, the nurse shared her story of disappointing her engineer father by not being able to draw in perspective when taking classes toward an engineering degree (that she didn’t want to pursue anyway.  Her father had designed the GM facility in Linden, NJ.  During the design stage, a scaled model of the building lived on her dining room table forcing the family to eat in the kitchen for several months.  One evening her father was perplexed and asked what had happened to all of the bathrooms.  All fifty of them had been moved away from the elevator shaft area.  Her brother explained that her really didn’t like the way the bathrooms looked located next to the shaft and had taken it upon himself to make the layout a bit more visually pleasing.  Her father explained the reason for locating the bathrooms next to the shaft was that all the plumbing could be run through the shaft, saving a great deal of expense.  The brother  acknowledged that the reasoning was okay and took it upon himself to return all fifty bathrooms to the location in his father’s original design.

Priceless story, Priceless glimpse into the lives of others, the lives of children who grow up in families with inventive parents who include their children in the thought process from planning through to execution.  The nurse’s brother has followed in his father’s footsteps, designing the plumbing and ventilation systems in corporate buildings.  Just as her story ended, the procedure was completed and we headed out into the beautiful, sunny but chilly afternoon.  The smell of fresh cut grass, the first of the season, filled our nostrils and brought smiles to our faces.

Another good day with Dad.

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April 10, 2014

Each week the challenges change.  I recall my sister-in-law once telling me, “Life as a parent never gets easier, it just gets different.”  The same goes for being a daughter … “Life as a daughter never gets easier, it just gets different.

As I signed my name in the book I glanced over and saw Dad sitting in the dining room sipping coffee, alone at his table.  I approached.  He stared into space, eyes glazed, shirt stained, shoulders hunched.  There is no question in my mind that shaving is no longer a priority, nor should it be.  His walker was nowhere in sight.

“I guess I don’t need it.”

We returned to his room with his lukewarm coffee which he insisted on drinking in his chair before the task of showering, shaving and shampooing.  Half an hour later, I still couldn’t get him to release himself from the comfort of his chair.

 

Dad, content in his chair sipping coffee

Dad, content in his chair sipping coffee

I busied myself by gluing and clamping a broken chip of wood into another chair.  I traced the shadows of the window shades as they fell upon my sketchbook.  I sorted his newspapers, sifted through his laundry, made inventory notes on his calendar.  Still, he wouldn’t budge.  I handed him a pencil and his green book.

“Well then, Dad, I guess it’s time to write another poem.”

Blank expression…. no response.

“Drawing something usually helps you find your words, Dad.  How about drawing this stuffed owl?”

Dad smiled and set to work on drawing the owl and moved right along to writing his poem and agreeing to take a shower, though he remained grumbly about the idea of going shopping for new sneakers.

The owl drawing

The owl drawing

Inspirations galore,

Where do you start !

The sunshine from above, –

The breezes from somewhere.

The number of choices

Are infinite for sure

Make a choice now

And go for it, – go NOW.

Shave ….. Shower ….. (“Don’t forget to use that green shampoo when you wash your hair, Dad!” I shout through the door).  He came out of the bathroom with wet hair, but the level of the shampoo remained the same, not falling below the line of the rubber band used to keep track of whether or not it’s being used.

Halfway to the car I couldn’t bear to go shopping for sneakers.  The day was gorgeous and Dad looked so happy being outside in the sun with the blue, blue sky above.  The wind was gentle and the air smelled of spring… finally.

“Dad.  Change of plans.  We’re going for a walk instead of shopping for sneakers.”

Huge smile

“You did well last week at Lord Stirling Park.  What do you think about taking the walker for a more adventurous walk?  We made it through gravel and puddles at the swamp, do you think we can handle rocks and tree roots with this walker?”

“I guess we won’t know until we try, will we?” (How lucky am I to have a dad like this?)

I parked far away from the trail head so that we could still get a decent walk in if we couldn’t get very far along the rooty, rocky path.  The last time we visited Hofheimer Park we took the short path to the grotto.  This time I wanted to try the whole loop, ending up at the grotto.

Happy to be in the woods again!

Happy to be in the woods again!

I missed sharing the giant beech trees with Dad.  Severe storms had uprooted so many trees that the trail was too dangerous when Dad was using his cane for balance.  Why did I think it would be easier with the walker?  I didn’t.  But I wouldn’t have to worry about Dad falling.  We had developed a method for rough terrain last week at Lord Stirling Park.

Guiding Dad's Walker

Guiding Dad’s Walker

I walk ahead and slightly to the left with my right hand on the front of the walker to lift it slightly, keeping it from digging into mud, jamming against rocks or roots and making it easier for Dad to push.  Lucky for me, I was hanging onto the walker when I stepped in a deep hole hidden by leaves.

A rough and rocky road

A rough and rocky road

With each step Dad looked happier and more bright-eyed.  His stamina amazed me.

Walking along the smoother terrain

Walking along the smoother terrain

Walking on the boardwalk around the small pond at Chelsea tires him out more than climbing a steep trail over uneven ground strewn with obstacles while having both hands on an unhappy  walker. He is not as happy walking around the pond as he is surrounded by the giant beech trees.  We had reached the top of the hill and were on our way down before Dad requested a short break.

Taking a break

Taking a break

There had been several short stops for him to blow his nose. Fortunately I remembered a paper towel this time.  At Lord Stirling Dad had resorted to his tried and true method that he had learned as a boy on the farm. Dad taught me how to blow my nose without a hanky when we ran together in the morning before I boarded the bus for high school.  I’m pretty sure Alexis is practiced at the method of nose-blowing while running.  Dad has mastered the techniques.  His dementia has not stolen from him his expertise.  The visuals had been a bit dramatic last week and I made sure to stuff a paper towel in my bag this time around.

Remnants of a Home Run

Remnants of a Home Run

As usual, we found treasures along the trail.  “Looks like someone hit a home run, Chris ….. a long time ago.  I bet that was a good day!”  The tattered ball awoke memories of coaching my brother’s baseball team many, many years ago.  That lead to memories of Dad and I running our first run together around the parking lot of the school where he coached Howard’s team.  Dad had just purchased the first edition of Aerobics and wanted to test it out.  We continued to run together until I left for Germany after graduating high school.

The aerobic runners, forty-six years later

The aerobic runners, forty-six years later

Trees were terribly bare for this time of year.  Spring has been so late in coming.  A few bits of green appeared on tired branches.

A hint of spring.

A hint of spring.

The algae glowed with the pride of being greener than anything else in sight.

Spring algae

Spring algae

We made it all around the loop and stopped in at the grotto before returning to the car.  There will be more good days to come and more not-so-good days to come.  There will come a day when we will no longer be able to walk the rocky, rooty trails together.

Almost at the bridge, but not quite yet.

Almost at the bridge, but not quite yet.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. We may be close, but we’re not there yet.

 

 

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June 27, 2013

When I arrived at Chelsea, Dad sat alone in the tea room reading the paper.  He didn’t hear me approach.  I watched as he stared at the paper as if he couldn’t focus on the words.  I waited, watching his determination to grasp a bit of what might be going on outside of his narrowed world.  Almost two minutes passed before he saw me standing beside him.  His face lit up and he came to life again.

Opening packages from Louise and Dave

Opening packages from Louise and Dave

I handed Dad the two Father’s Day packages that had arrived at my house from Louise and Dave.  After explaining that they were Father’s Day gifts, he began to open them…. at least he tried to open them.

Package One - Step One

Package One – Step One

Packaging has changed over the years.  The adhesives have gotten stronger and the plastics have the ability to stretch like salt water taffy.

Package One - Step Two

Package One – Step Two

He thought he had it…… but no…….after a great deal of struggling, Dad was able to open a large enough slit to reach his hand in, grab the bag inside of the bag and pull it out through the slit.

Package One - Step three

Package One – Step three

The bag inside the bag was just as difficult to open.

Package One - Step Four

Package One – Step Four

Dad does not give up easily.

Showing Off his new suspenders

Showing Off his new suspenders

Eventually, a new pair of navy suspenders lay in his hands. He switched his old for his new and sat back down to tackle the second package.

Package Two - Step One

Package Two – Step One

The experience was the same as with the first package….. but now he was a pro.

Package Two - Step Two

Package Two – Step Two

I think you get the picture.  The only difference was that he finally allowed me to help by slicing through the bag with my pocket knife.

Proudly displaying his new dress pants

Proudly displaying his new dress pants

After a quick stop to his room, we headed to Hofheimer Grotto.  We hadn’t been able to walk the paths after Hurricane Sandy.  Too many trees had blown down, blocking the trails.  I hoped that they had been cleared by now.

Cutting a trail through fallen trees

Cutting a trail through fallen trees

Dad hardly noticed the fallen trees or the huge chunks that had been cut from them so that the trails were clear for walking.

the new terrain

the new terrain

Dad just kept walking, focused on his footing and balance, oblivious to the state of the forest.  There was a time, months ago, when he talked non-stop about the trees either growing straight and tall or bending due to the wind and sun.    Here they were, his beloved trees, strewn about like pulled weeds left to decompose in the sun and rain.  Dad said nothing, he just kept walking.

Hofheimer Grotto

Hofheimer Grotto

The Grotto was in shambles.  I felt my cheeks wet.  I remembered the first time Dad and I walked here and discovered the grotto, a hidden treasure, an architectural wonder, surrounded by majestic pines.  Only a few of the pines remain.  The rest fell into the murky water, knocking stones and boulders down with them as they fell.  the grotto had changed and so had Dad.  I didn’t want to linger.

As a change of pace, as well as to distract me from my grief, I decided to take Dad for a haircut.  I don’t usually think of it and I didn’t think it was right to leave the haircuts for Jane to handle.  I wanted to surprise her…… and that I did.  It turns out that she had taken him for a haircut just last week!

Dad smiling when complimented on his great head of hair

Dad smiling when complimented on his great head of hair

Next time, I’ll take him to Sal’s in Martinsville.  A sports cut is not exactly what he needed.  Sorry Dad… Sorry Jane.

Back at Chelsea, I pulled the box of stationary out of my bag.  It has been a long, long time since Dad wrote anyone a note, addressed an envelope, put a stamp on it and mailed it off to a friend or loved one.  I thought I might help him write a thank you note to Louise and Dave.

What is it I am writing about?

What is it I am writing about?

“Why would I be writing a thank you note?”

“Louise and Dave sent you pants and suspenders.”

“Oh… where are they?”

“You’re wearing the suspenders.  The pants are in the closet.”

Dad looked down at his navy suspenders.  “These are new?”

“Yes, Dad.  You just got them today.”

“And where are the trousers?  May I see them again?”

I showed him the new trousers.

“Those are really nice.  Where did they come from?”

As you can imagine.  Writing the thank you note was more of a challenge than I had anticipated.

The Thank You Note

The Thank You Note

Eventually, the mission was accomplished.  I decided to wait for another day to help Dad write a note to his friend, Daisy Horn.

I’ll post what he wrote next time.  I don’t want to spoil it for Louise and Dave.

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