This I Believe

Gay - Birmingham, Alabama
Entered on March 17, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I took Dad to the zoo this week. I rolled him around in a newly acquired wheel chair. Kay gave us her mom’s chair. Since her mom has recently gone on to the next life she was glad to find a place for it… I’m so thankful! We can cover ten times the territory with it. I believe an attitude of grattitude helps us day by day.

Since Dad is unstable and wobbly he couldn’t have managed a zoo tour without the new chair. At the sight of the giraffe he said, “Well I’ll be…” When the lion sauntered by he said, “Look at that!” in great astonishment. I enjoyed his alertness and was thankful we were interacting. His speech is more limited now since he strings together only 6 to 8 words, max. Sometimes, like that day, his words make more sense than at other times.

In the parking lot as we left, he exclaimed he had never been there before and got me to repeat the word zoo, which seemed brand new to him! I talked about the sqawking flamingo and active monkeys and he heartily said, “Yeah”. He started a thought, “Well now, let me ask you…” but then he couldn’t remember what he was going to ask. By the time we got home he had no memory of the animals to share with Mom. So he really lives in the moment. And thankfully, that’s not such a bad place.

Besides his winsome smile, he still possesses his positive chatter and often says: “Sure” “You bet!” and “Thank You” And picture this: he kisses lots of care givers on the cheek. Black, white, old, young, broad based, and petite! A kiss rewards help.

As I park the car outside the Activity Center for those with dimentia, where we’ve been going for months, he routinely asks where we are. Inside the locked room (locked for the wanderers’ protection) two clients say, “Emmett, come sit here”, showing Dad’s got buddies just like he’s always had. The care givers think he’s a neat nik because he picks up crumbs, pushes in chairs, closes cabinets, stacks magazines and keeps his shirt tucked in so nicely. He’ll straighten up and ask, “Is this okay?” When I arrive I find him with his arms crossed, wearing an analytical look scanning the room. I approach and say, “Emmett, I’m GayLynn, your daughter. Let’s go home.” He claps his hands and says, “Good!”

In Grandma’s waning days, Daddy always prayed for his mom to enjoy a good quality of life and that’s my prayer for him… So far so good. We’ve found God’s provisions one day at a time. Our family is learning so much about life and each other in this process of saying the long goodbye, as Nancy Reagan referred to the months and years with the disease. So far I’m keeping the same gratitude that Daddy still possesses. Living in the moment, there is much for which I can give thanks.