Today, being Father's Day, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to write about—my husband because I think he is an amazing father to our three children. But as the week went on, I find myself thinking of my own father.
My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a little over three years ago. It wasn’t much of a shock to those of us closest to him because there were the typical warning signs (mood swings, memory changes). For the last three years I have been putting off getting more information about his diagnosis. I visited the alz.org website a few times, but never for very long because then I would find out things that honestly I wasn’t ready to face.
The other night I finally sat down and got to know the disease that has taken my father hostage. Now I come to find out that my father is basically in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, not a good thing. Time is short with my dad now and I wonder if I have done enough for him. Lately, when he has visited with my mother it has been for a reason (communion, birthday, dance recital). My mind was focused on those other things and not focused on spending time with my dad. It is very difficult to communicate with my dad these days and I find myself frustrated and lacking in patience just when I need them most.
My husband tells me not to beat myself up about these feelings. He says I should remember all the good times that I spent with my dad. Great advice. My dad and I spent so many good times together.
I remember the summer before eighth grade going to Philadelphia with my parents. I was of the age where it was so embarrassing to be seen with parents, so most of the time I pretended to be miserable (I couldn’t admit that I was actually having fun!). I remember that vacation so well. We did so many things – the Liberty Bell, Gettysburg, Hershey Park. Going to Hershey Park was great. At the end of the day, just before the park was going to close, my dad and I went on some looping roller coaster about a hundred times. My dad and I still laugh about that to this day. I know he will always remember it, and so will I.
The little things are what life is all about. You know, the things that happen while life is passing by. From the time I was about 10, whenever my dad and I found ourselves with nothing to do at home, my dad would throw playing cards on the table and we would play Rummy 500. No words were shared as to whether we wanted to play, we just did. My dad was a good player, and usually kicked my butt! We played cards even after my children were born, but definitely not as much, as young kids take up tons of time and energy! I loved playing cards with him and I wish he still could play. Maybe I’ll teach the kids how to play.
I remember getting lost in the woods with my dad and Aron (before we were married). It was autumn and the leaves were changing color. My parents and Aron and I went to upstate New York for the weekend. The weather was great for hiking. For some reason my mom didn’t come on the hike. Because we left in early afternoon we thought we’d have more than enough time to get back before dark. We hiked for some time before turning around. But when we turned around we found out that we were completely lost! My dad thought he knew the way back, but we ended up more lost! It was becoming late afternoon and we were starting to get a bit nervous. That’s when Aron took over and got us out of the woods, just in time for dinner! I guess my dad isn’t much for direction— I seem to remember getting lost on several car trips! But then, I guess it’s not the destination that counts as much as the time (and fun) getting there.
My dad and I have always enjoyed each other’s company. We laugh easy when we are together. My dad could fix anything. The bumper once fell off his Datson and so he made his own wooden bumper for the car! He said it made people stay clear of him on the road, plus it was his work car so it didn’t need to be nice, it just needed to get him there. Everyone in the family still laughs about that bumper!
My father is a great, quiet (he’s never been much of a conversationalist!), loving man. I may not be able to converse with him using words anymore, but I can still keep his company and remember happy days.
Happy Father’s Day, dad! I love you.