Actually, I don’t think there is such a thing as a typical day, so I will write about one day last week. I started out at home preparing the things I planned to take with me to visit dad. Then I went to our community exercise class for an hour of standing and sitting, stretching, balancing exercises and moving every body part. The program is designed to keep us flexible and preserve our balance to prevent falls.
Immediately after this exercise program, I usually drive to see dad and I did on this day also. Normally, when I arrive, dad is sitting in the lounge with his lady friend. But this day when I arrived, he was nowhere to be seen. I looked around and then asked one of the aides if dad was at an activity. No, she said, he is in his room.
I wondered about that as I walked down the hall to dad’s room. He is so rarely there lately. Dad was asleep in his chair with his afghan pulled around him. I woke him when I turned on the light. “Are you all right?” I asked him as he doesn’t usually nap in his room that much anymore. He said he was “just resting”. I asked if he wanted to go out for lunch. Of course, he said yes – after he wakes up.
I told him he had to put on a clean shirt as I took one from his closet. He was sitting in his undershirt with a jacket type shirt over it. “My shirt is fine”, he said. “No, I said, we are going out and I want everyone to see the handsome man I am having lunch with. You can put this shirt right over the other one”, and I put it on him as we talked.
Soon dad was wide awake and ready to go out. We walked to my car and he got right in and buckled himself in. I was relieved as last time he seemed unable to fasten his seat belts. Maybe that was just a bad day, I thought.
We went to the restaurant that has good fish and shrimp that dad liked so much. It had been closed for vacation the last time we went there. This time there was plenty of open parking which made things pretty easy. Usually their parking lot is full but I think many of the other regular patrons were afraid they were still closed for vacation.
Dad ordered the shrimp as I expected and we had a nice lunch. I began to ask dad questions about the old days. Sometimes I have so many questions and I miss the fact that mom used to be here to help me find the answers. I am taking a writing class and I wanted to write a story about when I was very young.
I asked dad about his cousin and my mother’s brother. They knew each other from the neighborhood though they weren’t related to each other. They were both related to me, and they used to tease me about treasures the other supposedly had. They kept me running to treasure hunt in each other’s homes but I never came up with anything. I asked dad who started that teasing between the 2 of them. He said it had been his cousin. Now I am ready to write that story when I find the time. Our class meets weekly and the story might not be ready for the next class. Oh well, I have other things I wrote before that I can bring instead.
Other than answering my questions, dad was pretty quiet while he ate. He isn’t much for conversations unless I ask direct questions. He didn’t eat as much as he had the last time, so we got boxes to take home the rest.
I took dad back to his assisted living facility and he wanted to go back to his room. He sat right down in his Lazy Boy chair and started to look around. “What are you looking for?” I asked as I looked around too. “This”, he said, as he picked up the afghan that had been in his lap when I arrived before lunch. Oh! Now I realized why he was in his room instead of in the lounge. He was cold!
The heat wave had passed but the air conditioning was still running at the same rate in his assisted living facility. He needed to bundle up under his afghan to keep warm. Dad has always tended to be too cold while mom was always too warm. He has been doing better lately and usually just wears an extra jacket or shirt while in the lounge. But on this day he wanted to bundle up under his afghan.
After our lunch together, I drove to the grocery store for my weekly shopping. I keep my list with me so when I have a few moments and am driving by, I can just stop and shop. By the time I got home, I was pretty tired. I was relieved though that dad was doing better. He didn’t have any trouble with his seatbelts on this day. And while at first I thought he might not be feeling well, I realized he was just keeping warm in his chair.
It was another good day for me and dad. I am thankful that he is doing so well at this point in his life. I thought about a neighbor of mine who is the same age as dad. She complained to her doctor last week that she just didn’t have the energy she used to have. “Be thankful”, her doctor said, “at your age most people are dead!”