A Father’s Day Card for the Alzheimer’s Patient

This Father’s Day, I would just like to say that I hate greeting cards.

I mean, I don’t hate hate them.  Hate is a pretty strong word.  But it’s so hard to find a good one.  So many are just way too cheesy or lovey-dovey or otherwise contain a message that I would never actually say to a person.  Some try to be funny but are actually very stupid.  Others are outright lies.  So, you could say that choosing the perfect greeting card is difficult for me at best.

Choosing a greeting card for a dad with Alzheimer’s Disease is just absolute and total nonsense.

And yet, to not give him a Father’s Day card is unthinkable.

Why are you giving me a picture of a leaf?
Why are you giving me a picture of a leaf?

Here is the fact:  my dad will not understand any message in any card I could possibly choose for him.  He doesn’t know he is my father.  He doesn’t even know what the word ‘father’ means.  He doesn’t understand that he raised me, he doesn’t remember making a sled out of a baby bathtub and dragging my sister and me around in the snow.  He has no recollection of taking me to Hills for fancy hot dog and Icee dinners.  NOTHING IN ANY GREETING CARD AT ALL WILL MEAN ANYTHING TO HIM.  “Relax and kick your feet up, Dad!  It’s Father’s Day!”

It would be easy enough just to ignore Father’s Day, at least where he is concerned, but of course I won’t.  I will go to see him and tell him “Happy Father’s Day,” and he will say, “What?  What’s that?  Are we going to church?”  It’s weird, how you can kind of get used to a sadness like this one.

He’s alive.  He’s there, and yet he is so totally not there.

And since everyone knows that if you can’t speak to someone directly, you should instead write your thoughts on the internet – here are some things I’d like to thank my dad for this Father’s Day.

  • For showing me that it’s okay when people laugh at you. Of course it’s nice when people laugh with you, but having them laugh at you is usually a different story.  My dad never cared.  He did not differentiate between the two at all.  He would do anything to be funny and if people were laughing, it was good.  Period.
  • For living without hate.  My dad hated no one, and no one hated him.  My grandma – his mother-in-law – did, periodically, try her best to hate him.  It never worked, because he never hated her back.  Hating him was like sending a hate missile up into space, where it would explode harmlessly and dissipate into the ether.  He did not compute hate.  I think if more people could ignore hate as successfully as he did, we’d have a way different kind of world.
  • For accepting everyone my sister and I ever brought home, even when they were idiots. And on the flip side, for telling them they were idiots in the nicest and funniest manner possible.  I’m remembering the perfectly employable boyfriend who said, “Guess what?  I qualified for food stamps!” And my dad said, “Guess what?  You’re an asshole.”  And then we all went and had lunch.
  • For forcing me to go to Kennywood that time it was “Polish day.” Even though I’d just had a long day at work and was hungover.  It’s a good memory that I wouldn’t have if he wasn’t so naggy and persistent.
  • For still wanting to pay for me everywhere we go.  Even though he doesn’t know I’m his daughter.  And no longer has a wallet.
  • For that time he smashed a sleeper sofa to smithereens in our front yard.  For obvious reasons.
  • For taking care of his business. My dad always did what he had to do, and didn’t complain about it.  When he saw a problem he tried to fix it.  Often to disastrous results, but still.  In my opinion and apparently in his, trying and failing is better than whining and doing nothing.
  • For taking me to see Staying Alive and Xanadu.  Not because I wanted to see them, but because he did, and thus proving that in all situations, you should just like what you like and never explain yourself to the other 1970’s dads who might not understand.
  • For badgering the adoption agency until they gave him a baby. My mother says he drove them batshit crazy, and I know him well enough to believe it.  I am pretty sure I ended up where I am today simply to shut my father up, and for that, I am forever grateful.   

Incidentally, I did end up buying my dad a greeting card.  It’s pretty stupid, and I’ll have to explain it several times, and even then it won’t mean anything to him.  Still, I’m hoping that if he looks at it after I leave, he’ll see the “I love you” in it, and the words will make him happy even if the meaning doesn’t get through.

I doubt it, though, so in case it doesn’t, I have just ordered Xanadu (Magical Edition) from Amazon.  On DVD!  The other seniors in the TV room are in for a real treat.

Happy Father’s Day.

To My Kids: Believe It Or Not, Yes, Daddy Can.

Family 2_0

Hello, Children!

As our fiscal year draws to a close, I’d like to take the opportunity to express my immense gratitude and appreciation for everything you do to make our family a happy and successful, if not necessarily profitable, organization.  The truth is that I love you like my own children, most likely because you actually are my own children.  I love you so much that it sometimes takes my breath away.  Like, you know how much I love cinnamon toast?  Well, that’s how much I love you.  Actually, way more than that, because if someone told me I had to give up either my kids or cinnamon toast, I’d say, I’m keeping my kids, thank you very much.  And now that I am writing this, I realize it doesn’t sound like such an awe-inspiring love.  “I’d pick you over toast.”  But you know what I mean.  Let’s move on from this before it gets any worse.

So, kids:  I am writing to you today because I believe that in order to achieve the greatest synergy within our enterprise, we need to ensure full utilization of all available resources.  With that in mind, I’d like to take a moment to reacquaint you with one of our most valuable and yet least relied-upon team members:  I call him Jim.  You may know him as “Daddy.”

I say “reacquaint,” because I realize you’re already fairly familiar with Daddy, most notably in his role as Director of Telling People to Turn Off TVs and Chief Shower Coordinator, as well as in his occasional stint as Liaison to the Great Outdoors.  I know you’re also aware that when it comes to things like “swimming in a pool,” “being allowed to operate a gas-powered vehicle at the age of three,” and “putting up as many holiday decorations as we can fit on our property,” Daddy is by far the more fun parenting associate.  However, I’ve noticed lately that the two of you may not be encouraging Daddy to realize his full potential, and I think the time has come for a change.

A Sensible Equation.
A Sensible Equation.

Let’s recall, for a moment, a recent incident where I foolishly thought I could close the door to my room and get through a 30-minute workout video without anyone needing me.  First, one of you called me to ask a question, on the telephone.  From the living room.  Next, the other of you climbed two flights of stairs to say, “Mom!  I’m ready!  I know what I want for breakfast!”

This confused me, because it was Saturday morning, and I was pretty sure your father hadn’t gone anywhere.  “Wait a minute,” I said to you.  “Isn’t Daddy home?”

And your response, so precious and priceless:  “Yeah.  He’s home.  But, Daddy’s sitting.”

That’s right.

DADDY’S SITTING.

Let me ask you:  do you remember the last time someone said, “Oh, let’s not bother Mommy!  MOMMY’S SITTING!”

No.  No, you don’t, for the simple reason that those particular words have never been spoken.

The trouble here is that when we over-utilize one department, we create an imbalance of effort that I’m fairly certain our organization cannot sustain for the long term.  In other words, there are certain days – primarily Sunday through Saturday – where if the word “Mommy” is spoken one more time, I fear my response may border on the unreasonable.

So let’s talk about some of the ways in which we could make use of the Daddy Division a bit more effectively.  For example, did you know that Daddy is just as capable of opening a bottle of Gatorade as I am?  That’s right!  He’s actually better at it, come to think of it, due to his superior upper body strength.  For the same reason, he can also retrieve giant Rubbermaid containers full of Matchbox cars from the guest room closet, and move furniture when you have shoved a hockey stick too far under to reach.  Furthermore, he can throw actual high flies to you in the backyard, as opposed to the “lame pop-ups” that I’ve been accused of delivering.  I know that with Daddy, you might not get the snappy response time you’ve come to expect.  But I believe that working together, we can help him to greatly improve his service levels.

As a fun exercise, take a look at the following list of common household exclamations:

  • Mommy! I can’t find the right Lego Batman walkthrough!
  • Mommy, do you know where my blue Under Armour shirt is?
  • Mommy! Guess who my favorite 2013 All-Star players are!
  • Mommy, can I have a snack?
  • Mommy, how old do you think SpongeBob is?

Now, I’d like you to take each of these statements and repeat it out loud, replacing “Mommy” in each of them with “Daddy.”  Try it now.  I know it may feel unnatural and strange at first, but with practice, I know we can optimize our teamwork skills and thus bring our morale to new and greater heights.

A side note:  As the sole representative of the Mommy Department, I want to assure you that your contributions are greatly appreciated, even when those contributions make me feel like my head might explode.  Nothing in this communication is meant to imply that I don’t want to be bothered by you.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth, because I know these years are fleeting, and you won’t be six and seven forever.  I really do want to take it all in and appreciate every little thing that comes with having six- and seven-year-old boys.  It’s fun and funny and I love everything about it.  I do.

And I guess it’s because I love you so much that I want to give you this gift:  the gift of resourcefulness.  Because to me, resourcefulness is second only to a good attitude when it comes to living a happy and successful life.  We don’t need to know everything, or how to do all the things, or which remote to use to get to Netflix.  We don’t need to have all the answers – we only need to know how to get them.  And the smartest of us, the most successful of us, have more than one way of finding the things out.  Or finding the double A batteries.  None of us can rely on one source for everything.  Otherwise, do you really think they’d have bothered inventing Bing?  My point exactly.

In closing, I’d like to reiterate that I only want what’s best for our operation, for today, and as we look to the future.  And I think we’d all agree that it’s best if Mommy doesn’t accidentally become an arsonist, or other type of public menace.

Also, I love you.  Super much.

Hugs and kisses,

Heart_0Your Mommy