A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'm how old??!?

We're in Chicago this weekend visiting my dad who is in a nursing home. We travel out here about four times a year to see him and each time he's weaker and looking older. So it's always a bittersweet experience. And, of course, at 85 and being oxygen dependent, his mind is not quite as sharp as it once was. He still does pretty good - reads the Chicago Tribune every day, watches the news, reads paperback novels (they are strewn all over his room) and is up to date on current events.

But his short term memory is failing. When we're out for a drive, he'll notice something like an interesting building and make a comment about it. Last night on the way to dinner he said, "San, look at that building. The blue/gray and black one. It has two glass sides and the black middle which is uneven. I guess the architect was trying to make a statement with that one, but what he was trying to say escapes me?" Fairly intelligent comment for an 85-year old -right? Only problem is that we were stopped at a red light at the time and, over the course of the next two minutes, he made the same comment in slightly different words three times!! He completely forgot that he had just said it. I sometimes liken him to a goldfish in a bowl - a goldfish has no short term memory so everytime it swims around the bowl, it's thinking, "this is new, this is new, this is new!"

Here's a fun conversation I had with Dad yesterday.

Dad (getting organized in his wheelchair, putting on the oxygen, getting his feet on the footrests, etcl): Boy, I'm in pretty bad shape for a 65-year old, aren't I honey?

Me (laughing - thinking he's kidding): 65?

Dad: Yeah, 65. Isn't that how old I am?

Me: Dad, I'M almost 65!! You're 85.

Dad (looking a bit shocked): 85? I'm 85? Shit! In that case I guess I'm not doing so bad!

It helps in times like these to keep our sense of humor - which is a big thing with my whole family. Even my dad. In spite of his ailments and his inability to do much of anything independently anymore, he can still laugh with us. That's important.

Today we'll take him to lunch with my brother, Tony, and his family. Then tonight we'll be having dinner at my aunt's house. Tomorrow we leave for home. It's always difficult to leave - not knowing how he'll be the next time I get back. But its always a good four days and I'm glad I'm able to get out here as often as I am.


Halfmexican Mama said...

I never even put thought into what a fish might think as he swims the bowl...thats a great one!

Your dad sounds like a hoot!

Desert Diva said...

No, he's definitely not doing too bad for 85! What a conversation!

When older folks lose their memories, it's sad. However, to keep it all in perspective you have to laugh.

I remember when my mom called the police because her "husband was missing." (My dad had passed away years before.) The police called us from the hospital emergency room (where they took her) and she patted my oldest brother's face as she "chided" him for disappearing. She thought he was my dad.

ira said...

My parents are entering their fifties. Yet, I can see a few changes in them. The fact that they tire more easily and do not like driving at night as much.

Jenni said...

That story is both sad and funny. I wish I could get out to see Gramps.

A Special Family said...

What special times you have! Anyone who reads the Chicago Tribune is my kinda guy!

Chris said...

You picked a crappy few days to visit here. We have had nicer weather.
Have a safe trip home.