Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Time.

I went to a barbecue this weekend given by the owner of the house where Dad lives. The family owns two houses, side by side in a relatively nice neighborhood, and every summer they try to give a barbecue for the residents and their families. A lot of the time, people who used to have family members at the houses stop by too; the owner prides himself on the fact that families are welcomed and involved in his houses.

I took a friend of mine, who had last seen Dad about six years ago when I still lived with him and would bring him by the office where I worked to visit with my friends. She was also involved in cleaning out his house with me. She said later that while she had instantly recognized my Dad, he looked and acted a lot differently from the last time she had seen him. If I remembered correctly, he had flirted with her on that occasion; it was pretty certain that there would be no flirting today. He is, of course, much less animated and talkative, and regards the world now with a slightly suspicious look, as if he's not sure what's coming next but he's pretty sure he won't like it.

Like the last time I visited, I tried to engage him as much as I could, and again I noticed that he would stare intently at my face. I can only guess that somewhere in his brain is the correct identification trigger that indicates I am his daughter, but I don't think it's really accessible anymore. He doesn't know who I am anymore, although I do think that he still recognized a relationship to me-I have a feeling that I now fall in the category of people he knows that make him do things he doesn't really want to do.

In any case, he seemed to be in a decent mood, even managing to find and identify his fork and use it to lift bites of food to his mouth. The last time I saw him eat a few weeks ago, he was being fed, so it was heartening to see that at times he could still remember what a fork and food meant. My friend and I sat next to him, eating our plates of salad and steak, just trying to be there for him. Later, I took her on a tour of the houses and she gave her approval. She said it seemed like all of the staff and the owner treated their residents with a great deal of respect and compassion, and that it seemed like the houses were clean and comfortable. Although I do have great faith in Dad's caregivers, to have the positive opinion and take on the situation of someone I trust was deeply comforting.

All in all, it was a good afternoon. We went out and said good bye to Dad as the caregivers were wheeling the residents back into their houses and the family members were saying their goodbyes. I gave Dad a hug and told him I loved him, and then left him to the people who have also become his family.

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