So there it was ...the fourth straight day of gloomy, dark, wet weather. Building an ark had been achieved, so after my ritual morning reading and daily devotions - a.k.a. ”Attitude Adjusting for the Day” (or as I prefer calling it, Approach Determining Adjustment), I walked up the driveway. Bending down to grab the a.m. newspaper, I noticed the flow of water moving within the street gutter. It current held dirty rain water, some dead leaves, pine needles and a wrapper or two. It struck me that all of this will end up heading towards some cesspool of a drainage somewhere down the street. This image helped me to realize there was a choice to make; either go with the flow, or somehow create a flow in a different direction. I could end up in a cesspool of negativity and fear, a filthy, corrupt place. I could be spinning in lament and drudgery. Or I could choose another path.
That day I had planned to go to my parent's assisted living place. They both have forms of dementia; my Dad’s much more progressed than my Mom’s. As I drove I had to make my choice, and I did. I was going to take them to lunch, despite the fact that the sun hadn't shown for days and I had a laundry list of calls, to-do’s and to-be’s. I chose to be thrilled about how I was using this precious window of time.
Walking in, I saw my dad sitting on their couch with his pajamas bottoms on and his ski jacket zipped up over his chin. Albeit being 86° in their condo, he mentioned that he felt a little ‘chili’. My dad has shouldered and handled his dementia with humor and a lack of pride. He has been willingly, yet painfully, accepting of his demise. On this particular day, he was proud of the fact that he had been able to
push the “Big Blue Automatic Talking Time Gadget” we had gotten him for Christmas last year in order for he and my mom to make it down to the lobby in time for me to take them out.
As he has said repeatedly in the past, “Kaari I don't have dementia, I just don't know what the hell’s going on!” When I ordered for him at Applebee's he said, “Is that something I like?” I said, “Yes Dad, you/we have ‘chosen’ that before.” Struggling to eat his soup with a fork and his French fries with a spoon, I looked at him and smiled. He was thrilled about his meal, spending time with me and my mom, and simply just ‘being’. The former, less-than-agreeable-man of my youth, the Division 1 college football quarterback and the Northwest Airlines Captain, was allowing himself to ‘flow’. And it was certainly not into the cesspool.
He has no choice regarding his capacities. We do. I just hope I keep choosing to flow in the right direction.