I have chronicled Dad’s decline, and his surprising cameos in reality.
Something has changed. I couldn’t articulate it until I bumped into SOB (sister of blogger) in the gym locker room. Because why not discuss our deeply personal business when naked women are blow-drying their hair, I said:
“Something is different with Dad”
“He is winding down. It is sad.”
“It isn’t just his heart failure —
SIDEBAR: everyone over a certain age is in heart failure.
— have you noticed that he doesn’t annoy us so much anymore?”
We both had a think about that.
Dad was once a maestro at making us nuts. When Mom was dying, we knew that we would move in and disrupt our lives to care for her. Dad was different; he was too damn annoying.
Now, we are talking about taking turns staying over (along with his 24/7 care) if necessary.
What is different?
Dad is now a lovely old, nutty man who has — maximum — two or three habits that make SOB and me nuts. That’s it.
WHERE IS THE MAN WHO, WITHOUT EXERTING A MUSCLE, COULD MAKE ME NUTS BY TALKING ABOUT THE PRICE OF BANANAS OR COMMENTING LOUDLY ON OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE ON THE BUS? OR COULD BE PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE WHEN A CAB DRIVER WAS TALKING ON THE PHONE INSTEAD OF ASKING HIM TO END HIS CALL?
Yes, the change. Dad being Dad as he is now doesn’t make me nuts. (Dad’s dementia, however, makes me sad, mad and crazy.)
I wished that my father would stop torturing me all these years. Now I understand the maxim: “careful what you wish for” because the quid pro quo in my case is too heartbreaking.
Thankfully, dementia is not linear. The old Dad shines through sometimes. Just this weekend, in advance of Thanksgiving, where we serve brisket instead of turkey, he asked:
“Did you remember to get the lean cut of brisket and did you find someone who knows how to carve it?”
Oh, Dad, the miracle of your annoying ways made my eyes well up when I responded:
“Daddy, I am good at a lot of things, but not carving brisket. You may have to deal with the usual thick slices, ok?”
Pause. Silence. Resignation. “Of course, darling.”
Ah, the gifts that can light up an evening sky.