Tag Archives: dad

Dad and his pal on the town

I found this dashing photo of Dad and one of his buddies back in the day. What a couple of ladykillers these two had to be!

Dad and his pal enjoy a night on the town.

Unfortunately, I know nothing else of the photo, other than it appears to be taken in a photo booth, which was common back then. I don’t know if this was from my Dad’s Big Apple period, or when he spent a bit of time in the Big Easy or when he finally ended up in L.A.

At any rate, it’s a great snapshot in time, and it allows me to imagine the day/night this photo was taken. Maybe they were on their way to meet their dates? Or maybe they were single boys on the prowl, ha. I have no idea who the other man in the photo is, but I wonder if he’s still alive and how his life turned out.

I love old photographs, especially ones of my father looking so handsome!


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Dad in tights

Well, I never thought I’d see my dad wearing tights, but I unearthed this treasure of a photo recently. Mom had mentioned that Dad had done some “Shakespeare in the park” or other community theatre when he first came to Los Angeles. I guess she was right, because now I have photographic evidence!

My dad in all of his tights-wearing glory!

There is no caption on the back, so I don’t know anything about what play it was, or what year it was, but it looks like Dad is taking his community theatre role seriously!

So he didn’t become a Hollywood star, but there was more to my dad than I ever knew when he was alive.

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Dad’s mystery trip

I came across more old photos of Dad while staying at Mom’s house. I thought this one was pretty interesting. I have no idea where or when it was taken. There’s definitely a feel of the southwestern U.S. or Mexico, with a cactus spotted in the background. It appears to be some kind of sightseeing trip with a couple of his pals.

Dad (on the left) with a couple of pals on a trip.

The story of the trip is lost forever, but I have the image of my young and handsome Dad exploring new places, an interesting snapshot of the man who existed long before I was born.

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How life turns on a dime

With my dad, Alzheimer’s disease moved slowly but surely. Tell-tale signs here and there, and then one day, boom, it hits you. Dad had dementia and there’s no turning back.

With my mom, it seemed so sudden, though probably her health issues had been creeping up on her for some time. Her issues are primarily physical, while Dad’s were mainly mental. So health-wise, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but for me, the stress is identical.

I feel like I’ve been dropped back into that video game world, where your character is supposed to navigate around the bad guys and tense situations. Even sleep is troubled with stressful visions. I spent almost all of 2011 in this state. It is not a healthy state to be in, but I must be there for my mom, just like I tried to be there for my dad.

Yet again, there’s that gnawing feeling, that I should be with my mom right now, and accompany her to her appointment with the specialist tomorrow. (For the record, Mom soundly rejected that idea. She’s not gone yet!) Still, the tension of living with a parent who inches ever closer to Death becomes a shadow that fills every crevice of your life.

I only have one more shot at doing this right. I already regret not spending enough time with Dad while he was alive. I feel like I’m walking the same road with Mom right now, but until we get a proper diagnosis, I feel we are in this terrible limbo.

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Dad’s favorite sweater

If I’m reunited with Dad again in another life, I fully expect him to be wearing his navy blue sweater with the red and white overlapping diamonds. It might as well have been Dad’s weekend uniform during the winter. In the summertime, he had a stable of short-sleeved shirts, always with a pocket where he kept his smokes. But for some reason, that sweater stands out in my mind more than anything else he wore.

The famous sweater, as much of a Christmas staple in our house as our tiny fake Christmas tree.

It’s probably because he wore it for holidays and “special” outings. The sweater itself was nothing special. It probably came right off the rack at Kmart and was made in China by illegal labor. It was thin, but those Southern California winters weren’t exactly brutal, ha. Dad’s smoking habit stubbornly clung to the threads of that sweater, no matter how religiously Mom washed it.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that old sweater, probably mended by Mom a dozen times over the years, still exists. It may still be hanging in their closet, or tucked away in a dresser drawer, never to be worn by its original owner again.


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Father’s Day wishes

Today is the first Father’s Day I’m celebrating without Dad being alive. As I’ve mentioned before, Dad was not big on holidays, so there are not a lot of sentimental memories for me to tear up over today. It was odd not sending a card to him this year. It’s also odd not speaking to him on the phone, even though most of our conversations centered around mundane topics like the weather.

I decided to go ahead and buy a Father’s Day card this year, just so I could write the message I should have written to him all of those years he was alive and well. As those of you with dementia in your family know, the loss of that person’s identity can begin years before the physical death takes place. We love them whole and broken, but it’s important to show them that love while they can still fully recognize it. We just don’t know how much they know and feel once dementia takes hold.

Here’s the card I got. It’s actually one of the better ones I’ve found over the years, too bad Dad is not here to see it.

Here’s the message I wrote:

I’m thinking about you today and every day. It may be too late, but today I am saying thanks for all of the sacrifices you made over the years. Love, Joy

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Dad and his dog-eared library books

As we head into Father’s Day weekend, I’m reminded of some of the quirks of his personality. It drove Mom crazy that Dad insisted upon folding the corners of pages of books borrowed from the library. To him, it was simply practical; but Mom thought about those poor souls who would check out the book after Dad and have to deal with all of the creased corners.

I did my part to support Mom’s campaign. I bought Dad multiple bookmarks over the years, all of which were never used.

Dad also used library books as his day planner. He would stuff letters to be mailed, bills to be paid, etc. in the pages of library books. I wonder how many cards I sent him accidentally went back to the library, to be tossed into the trash by an annoyed librarian!

I for the most part read books electronically now, so there’s little opportunity to follow in Dad’s footsteps. But every time I see a poor book with abused corners, I will think of Dad.

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Sand, sand everywhere!

As I’ve mentioned before, my parents were not beach people. One of my first (and only) experiences hanging out on a beach in Southern California came courtesy of a school field trip. Of course, as anyone knows who has been to the beach with kids, sand sticks to kids like a magnet. Despite doing nothing more than walking along the beach on the overcast day looking for seashells, I managed to collect a lot of sand.

Dad picked me up from school that day and much of the sand transferred into his car. He was none too pleased about having to clean it out! He knew Mom would complain if she sat down in a seat full of sand the next time she got in the car. It may have taken him awhile, but Dad had caught on to being a good husband that stays out of trouble!

I remember trudging into our apartment, leaving a trail of sand behind me. I never thought I would get rid of all of those tiny grains clinging to my clothes and body!

Needless to say, I’ve joined my parents and am decidedly not a beach person.

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Playing songs for Dad

When I was about 7 or 8, my parents bought me a tiny Casio keyboard. It was very lightweight and portable, and sounded nothing like a real piano. Then again, I sounded nothing like a real musician.

As I graduated from “Happy Birthday” and “Skip to My Lou” to slightly more “complex” pieces, I would perform “concerts” for my parents. This would consist of me adding a few notes to the pre-recorded ditties on the machine. I would always pick out something Irish-sounding for Dad. He smiled politely and sipped his coffee as I played. Mom was over-enthusiastic but every kid wants to hear praise for a job well done.

Alas, I never mastered any music keyboard beyond that cheap, tinny Casio. I briefly owned a full-sized keyboard in college, but never found the time to teach myself the basics. Playing the piano is still on my bucket list. I’d like to learn a classic Bing Crosby tune and “Danny Boy” in memory of my dad.

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If coffee could prevent Alzheimer’s

I was reading today about a study that suggested drinking coffee could delay Alzheimer’s. My first thought after reading the article was that it didn’t do my dad much good, and he drank coffee morning, noon and night.

But then I thought about it in another way. Wonder if all of my dad’s coffee drinking (I did a rough estimate based on his habits and age and estimated over 85,000 cups in his lifetime) delayed the disease by years? Dad was in his mid-seventies when he started to show signs of dementia. Maybe his love of coffee (he would drink it with anything, pizza, pasta, you name it) held off the crumbling of his mind for a few years?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to know and hindsight is 20/20. If we knew what was to come, and that his coffee habit was keeping Alzheimer’s at bay for a few years, perhaps we would have lived our lives differently. Sadly, I doubt we would have changed a thing.

Other than a cigarette, a cup of coffee is the thing that reminds me of my dad the most. Even the last time I saw him alive, he asked for a cup of coffee.

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