A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Happy 85th, Dad

We're in Chicago this weekend to visit my dad and help him celebrate his 85th birthday. Ed and I travel to Chicago to see Dad at least four times a year. We always travel Southwest Airlines so we have the whole routine down to a science. Or so we thought. My son stopped over on Thursday evening and we were talking about travel, airlines, etc. Suddenly Ed leaped up and began spewing expletives! Now, for those of you have never flown Southwest - they don't have assigned seats. Instead, they board in three groups (A, B, C) and you are assigned a group in purely chronoligical order - first come, first served. In the "old days" you got a boarding number at the check in desk - and there was always an air of excitement around who got to the gate first and how low your number was. I actually got #1 on one of my trips! I felt so special - I made sure the number was clearly showing so everyone would see that I was on top. Yes, I had to get there 90 minutes early to accomplish this heroic feat - but I did it. (For those of you with volune turned up, you can probably hear my daughter saying "What a dork!" right about now). Definitely one of the highlights of my travel expreiences.

Now, you can go online 24 hours before the flight and check in. We KNOW this!! We do it regularly! But, alas, on Thrusday night we were 13 hours late. My husband raced into the office and went online. Again, expletives. He came out of the office and tossed two pieces of paper at me - they were our boarding passes. We were in C. The most non-elite of rows. We would get the leftovers - the seats the A and B people didn't want. Sigh........

As we got on the plane, we could feel the eyes of the A and B people looking at us with a mixture of sympathy (there but for the grace of god,,,,,) and disdain. We did manage to find two seats together - at the back. Luckily the rest of the flight was uneventful.

After checking in at the hotel, we picked my dad up and took him to dinner. He so seldom gets out that it's always fun to take him to a nice restaurant. We had a great dinner and some bread pudding for dessert with a candle in it.

Yesterday we all went to my brother's house in Evanston for a BBQ. My aunt (Dad's sister) and uncle joined us. The weather was perfect, my brother's back yard was beautiful, and it turned out to be a great day. You might be able to see the candles on the cake read "29". My brother forgot to buy candles and that was what they had at the house. However, if you reverse them the number is 92. Subtract the 2 from the 9 and you get 7. Subtract 7 from 92 and you get 85!! So it all worked out.

As usual, there were a few odd questions from my Dad: Who's house is this again? (my brother has lived in this house for 11 years) Is Aunt Mary coming (she still lives in Tucson)? Do you still live in California? I try to imagine what it must be like at his stage in life. He's really very intelligent - stills reads the paper daily, watches the news, reads Time and Newsweek. Very up on current events and can still out-spell any of us. But he has these moments when time and space get mixed up for him. The last 3 places he's lived blend together. He loses track of some basic everyday facts - then he'll catch himself and either feel sad angry. He usually knows when he's said something that doesn't make sense. I try to underplay these comments so he doesn't feel so bad about them. However, I know it's very hard for him to realize that he's losing his grip on reality and it scares him. I wonder what it feels like - does he feel like he's in a fog and things just aren't clear? It's so painful to watch.

But we had a really good afternoon complete with cake and ice cream. At one point he said, "It makes me so happy to have all of you here." It made us happy, too.


Desert Diva said...

You and your husband are too funny - I love the photo under the "C" sign with Ed making the "Loser" sign on his forehead.

I actually like to sit in the middle of the plane over the wing - I heard somewhere it's the most stable.

You all look so happy - I'm glad you had another wonderful birthday to share with your dad...

Jenni said...

It completely breaks my heart to see Gramps like that. I wish that we all lived closer and that I could have spent this birthday with him.

Oh, and yes, you are a DORK! I do like that picture of Ed though. :)

Arlene said...

I'm so glad you guys got to see him and spend his birthday with him! I know how sad it can be watching someone you love so much losing their mind though...never an easy thing to see! I hope you guys all the best!!