Ah, life in the Coffee Shop of the Undead is, well, hanging by a string.
Maybe not life, as much as sanity. Ok, not sanity so much as functional insanity. Life in the Coffee Shop of the Undead is measured by the functionality of those with dementia and other neurological disorders.
I guess it is also measured by physical compromise. If you aren’t crazy, then you are most likely so enfeebled that, if you make it to the place from your house, you (actually, your home health aide) should do a victory lap around the (tiny) place.
So where else would Dad go to see his friends? Regardless of Dad’s daily level of crazy, which hit the nuclear contamination levels today, he tips his hat to the elders already seated. For over 50 years, some of them were just passersby on the street, but now that they are the surviving remnant, they acknowledge each other. Others, like Marty and Joan (the kids of the group at mid-to-late 70s) get a real greeting. Dad reserves the warmest greeting for Sam, his old friend.
But Sam wasn’t at lunch today. Always a worrisome sign. Sam has Alzheimer’s and some other dementia diagnoses, but like any disease, he can function some days and not others.
After we left the coffee shop, we bumped into Sam just outside. (I am grateful that Dad and he have known each other for so long that, even with his mental disease, he recognizes Dad (and us)).
We greet Sam.
Sam says, “I have some very bad news. I was going to call.”
SOB and I hold our breaths. Is it his companion, Norma? Is it his ex-wife? His daughter? His granddaughter?
Sam continues. “My brain is not working so well. I have issues now.”
SOB and I exhale at the same time. THIS IS NOT NEWS. EVEN TO SAM. HE JUST CAN’T REMEMBER THAT IT ISN’T NEWS.
Dad — even with his nuclear-level dementia today — didn’t miss a beat, “if you would like company, we will come over or, food, we can bring it over.”
SOB and I marvel at the way Dad can summon the man he was for a friend in need.
The man he was. The totally addled man he is. They live side-by-side in the same body.
That is why it is so hard to handle the bad days.
Because there will be good moments to give a child hope.
And then, a moment later, the child wonders where her daddy has gone.