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Showing posts from 2009

Day 503. in which a letter is delivered from 1974.

My father is 70 years old. What he owns can fit into a small bedroom. There are hundreds of business cards, wrapped up with rubber bands; soaps and shampoos, collected from motels; beer coasters he habitually nabbed from bars; a large Xerox box full of maps; a variety of adhesive he used during his sock-gluing phase, among a variety of other odds and ends that had somehow called to him. In all of these items, I am aware of something intrinsically 'Bob' in all of them. To an outsider, they would signify little. But what stands out the most in this room is an object lately untouched by Bob: a plain hard-covered, black brief case. The brief case that carried back and forth various documents from the Federal building in Albany, the mysterious case I was not to touch on pain of death. I recall it being a source of mystery for me. What could be so very important in that black brief case...? The brief case left me deflated. At the end of the day, is that all there is..? Now here

Day 478. in which signs are only good if you know where you are.

And clearly, I didn't. When I look back at when my father first moved in with me, I cringe. I expected more from him than he was capable. He had only recently stopped driving (a blog, for another time...). He had been home most of the time alone, sometimes for days, nights, while his partner was away at work. I wonder now what those days and nights passed alone were like for him. At first, I thought he was OK to leave home alone; he simply needed visual cues.   This one served as a reminder to Bob to eat lunch while I was at work. I littered the house with pointers. Nothing fancy. Simply Sharpee-scribbled reminders of who he was,  what to do, and where to go on colored construction paper. Bob's Room.   Bathroom.   STOP! Bob! Stay inside the house!   Attic.   Stupidly, at first, I sometimes left him in the house with notes in 'joke' format, like 'Hey Bob, don't leave the house! The police are looking for you!" which would have been really funny if m

Day 456. in which our holidays are always twisted.


Day 421. in which you might not want to respond to your mother's beck and call.

Bob's most quiet time of the day is the morning. While words often escape him in the evening, the morning is relatively coherent, when a dialogue is still possible. The panic does not settle into Dad's eyes until the sun begins to set on the day. This morning, his head was resting on the back of the couch, and his eyes were closed. He was quiet. The couch pillows were arranged so that the ones which were supposed to go behind him were instead piled up on top of him. He clutched the over-sized pillow close to his body, hugging it tightly to his chest. Only his glasses peeked out over the top, the rest of his face hidden by the pillow. Dana and I were sitting on the other side of the room on the love seat, engrossed by our digital devices. The morning show was droning on in the background but none of us were minding it. The children had already been shuffled off to school so the house was unusually peaceful. With his eyes still closed, Bob said dreamily, "When I close my e

Day 389. in which I suspect I lost count...

"guy with no arms" by lilith arden soechting, age 3.

Day 383. in which barracks life is rugged!

 This is a picture of my dad in the barracks on an Air Force base.  The back of the photo reads:  BARRACK'S LIFE IS RUGGED! The handwriting isn't my Dad's, though, and he also wouldn't have mispunctuated.

Day 382. in which leroy c. cornell is identified!

Often Dad's reality is mismatched from the moment actually transpiring to a moment from long ago. In addition to the Alzheimer's diagnosis, Dad has recently been plagued with pneumonia, and other random viruses passed along to him from his goobie grandchildren who are laden with germs so he's been more confused than usual. Sometimes it seems like my father is already gone. In truth, he cannot do any of the things he once loved to do. He spends most of his time on a couch in a living room and cannot find his way back to the living room once he wanders out of it. Attempts at dialogue are a challenge. Dad talks with me like his words are making sense but more often than not lately, they are not. Other days, he cannot talk at all. I recently began scanning Dad's old photographs from his Air Force photo album. One of my regrets is that my father kept some mementos and photographs but that their story could 'die' with him. Most of his photographs are not nota

Day 375. in which I could use a lecture.

Before my father moved in with me, I'd occasionally go up to Cambridge to spend the weekend with him while Barbara was working. "So, are you planning on spending the night tonight?" he'd ask. When I'd announce I was spending the entire weekend, he would look overjoyed, "Oh! Good, good! So..., you'll be here all weekend, then? That's great!" Sometimes, he would ask me this more than once and when he realized it, he would simply laugh and say, "I already asked you that, didn't I? Why am I repeating myself?" and he'd laugh, and then drink another glass of wine. I'm not quite sure why - if his intention had been to regulate his amount of drinking? - but he often drank wine out of a small juice glass. Unfortunately, he had a tendency to continually refill his juice glass. It was difficult to tell whether his drinking confounded his memory, or his memory confounded his drinking. It's hard to know. Today, Dad asked me,