I never get tired of it; the mornings when I can savor quiet and move slower, when the calendar and the clock aren’t my dictators. I take the time to make my scrambled eggs fluffier and more flavorfully complicated, all spices and Tofutti. I pour myself a fancy glass, not the everyday mason jars, with organic juice I found marked down enough so I can have it and still pay my light bill. The ingredient list has beets and pineapple and carrots and turmeric and I feel very grown up and I light my candle and sit down at my speckled kitchen table. That’s when my dad always shows up.
He loves making breakfast on Saturday mornings. He has on a white undershirt, gray sweatpants, brown house shoes; stirring and scrambling and frying. The bacon sizzle competes with his whistling. My eyes gaze down at my breakfast and I realize I’m daydreaming. Dad’s in heaven two years now. But he’d have loved this cold, blustery Saturday. I think to take a picture and look at it closely. There’s lessons there. Dad was vibrant and happy and made friends wherever he went. He loved coffee and crossword puzzles and would find new places to go and sit and do both….and talk to people he’d never met. He loved kids and would never fail to bend down and look them right in the eye when he was talking to them. For some odd reason, he loved to look for four leaf clovers. I can still see him now, out in my yard, looking down and walking slowly. He’d come in the front door, my kids swarming all around him and hand me his discovery with a smile on his face. He’d done it again.
Dad loved to challenge himself and learn something new. He read voraciously and would send letters to the authors and let them know he enjoyed their book, many times receiving answers from them. He wanted to learn to fly so he did and then bought himself a small plane and took me flying. He was fueled by current events and loved politics. So he entered the ring; sometimes he lost and sometimes he won. He brought me along to campaign with him and meet others campaigning. He’d always wanted to see the ball drop on Times Square so one New Year’s Eve he bought a ticket and flew to NYC. He made his “always wanted to” happen.
My dad was life brimming over. He’s the last person you’d expect Alzheimer’s to invade. But it did; brutally, quickly, mercilessly. It robbed him blind this side of heaven. I sit looking at this breakfast and I take it all in, one bite at a time. I don’t forget to remember that my legs walked me into the kitchen with no help from anyone else. I know where things are; the pepper sits king in it’s place in the cupboard, my favorite white plate perched on top of the pile at the ready; waiting to be chosen. I scramble and chop and mix. I know how to. Except whistle. I can’t whistle. It’s all familiar. My home is not a stranger to me. I pick up my fork and I know what it is; put it to my mouth and notice that I can, all by myself. The tart of raspberries and hot of coffee taste just the same as they always have and they comfort me.
My father taught me that things that you think will always remain….don’t. You can forget how, forget who, forget why, forget what. You can stop knowing, stop tasting, stop seeing, stop hearing. He taught me to grab hold hard and wring it out dry. He taught me how to live. He made breakfast mean something.
#alzheimers #lifelessons #joy #fathers