Today I went in to visit dad. As always, the building is beautifully decorated. There are many Thanksgiving symbols and decorations. As I approach the front walkway I see huge bales of straw, with stuffed Wizard of Oz people made of hay, pumpkins, and bright orange ribbons. The activity staff put up cute little turkeys, too. Indoors, the floral arrangements are in tune with the theme and fall colours. It is cheery and a recognition of the changing of the seasons. I must dig out some decorations for Dad’s room.
The kitchen staff prepared a wonderful dinner. Brian doesn’t like turkey and so I am quite envious of dad’s full dinner; turkey, stuffing, hot vegetable and pumpkin pie. We will not eat so well, as there are only the two of us. We are drained with the demands of regularly feeding dad. I have found it much easier to visit Dad and feed him at dinnertime, rather trying to drum up conversation. I have the need to cry when I visit, but I can fight it if I concentrate on meeting Dad’s dietary needs. It means that Brian and I often go out to dinner after this, since I do not get home until dark and too late, with little energy to cook.
I sit there thinking of the numerous turkeys Dad had prepared. His job is to put the turkey in before church. He will quietly go about the kitchen making the stuffing; cooking and saving the giblets for whichever animals he had at the time. The cats loved them.
One of the photos I displayed for Mom’s Memorial Service visitation is one that shows them two years ago, aprons tied, Mom at the sink, Dad at the stove. He wore a bright pink vest over his dress shirt. Mom wore a white, embroidered sweater. Both dressed in black dress pants. They always take pride in their appearance. They hated it when people popped in, especially when they become so ill. Mom spent all day in her pajamas, as the tumours are painful and her colitis horrible, with emergency visits to the bathroom on an irregular and unpredictable basis.
Dad is calmer today, Monday, than he was on Sunday. He can’t figure out the hearing aid. He keeps turning up the volume, making it squeak. He reads lips a lot. He loves the ladies: cheering up every time a young caregiver pops in. He smiles and turns on the charm. He seemed to accept being fed as a gesture. It is only fitting that the person that nurtured and fed me should be, in turn, be receiving such care. I cry on the drive home, for moments lost to memory, never to be repeated. A childhood remembered with great joy. The photo shows them making the last Thanksgiving dinner they ever made. I will become an orphan. I am now the matriarch. How different it all feels.