Tag Archives: fathers and daughters

My daddy’s holiday

My mother likes to explain that, when her brood was young (long before Monday holidays rearranged our calendars), many of us thought that Washington’s birthday was a holiday only because is was my father’s birthday–and therefore a holiday just for him. If it were up to me, we’d still be celebrating my father’s birthday every year as a national holiday. As a matter of fact, we’d celebrate in grand style. There would be pageantry: dancing girls and horses with plumes, in the way¬† he once requested. He’d get quite a kick out of it, I know. Particularly those dancing girls.

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Finding life among the clouds

I always hold my breath, if only for a moment, as I take the corner from the hallway into my father’s room in rehab. Will he be up? Will he be dressed? Will I find him tired or talkative? And then there is always the fear that, one day, when he sees me, he might not remember me–though, thankfully, this is a groundless fear to date.

This day he is stretched out on his bed, fully dressed, his arms back, his fingers laced behind his head. It reminds me of how we laid on the ground as children, watching clouds float above, imaging angels and demons and any number of exotic beasts in their passing shapes.

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The road home

He will tell you he is content. He has no pain. He is happy–as long as my mother is by his side. He has no wants, has a roof over his head. And yet, he is still curious and ready for adventure. He has lost much of his memory but his mind still works.

“Where do they all live?” My father often requests an update on his nine children. And yes, he is quite sure he had nine, though he’ll correctly state, “I didn’t have them; your mother did.”

So, I listed the current residences for him. From Oregon to Alabama to New Mexico then Atlanta, upstate New York and western Massachusetts and lastly, his two youngest near him, still, on Cape Cod.

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A shining star, a guiding light at Christmastime

“I think we came the furthest,” she said as she settled into the open chair beside me. “Did you come far?”

When I explained that I lived just over ten miles away, I could almost feel a palpable jealously directed back at me. Almost. Because sometimes close is simply too close. Sometimes it’s easier to put things out of your mind whenever possible, to distance yourself from the difficulties and allow time to focus on your own life. Sometimes, but not always.

She had come all the way from California to the east coast to attend this Christmas celebration.

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He’s coming home.

Did we ever really think we would call the apartment at the assisted living facility “home”? Could home ever be anywhere but at the big house where they had raised their nine children? It that not a word reserved for a place of long-lived memories–a sacred place?

He’s coming home. If all goes as planned, the day will mark precisely four weeks, a total of 28 days apart from his love–his life. The first days were agonizing. Did he know where he was? Why he was there? How does a 97-year-old man with dementia survive a hospital stay and weeks in rehab? I saw him cleaved in half, torn from the arms he has known for seventy years. I felt his pain. If I could be his crutch, I would bear his weight without complaint. I can do little except touch his hand, smooth his hair and love him. And yet, as the days drag by, I watch as this man endures. Eventually, he understands. He complies. He works hard. He wants more than anything to go home. And he shall.

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