Saturday, September 6, 2014

(Don't You) Forget About Me.....

father and daughter

Every Saturday morning I drink an entire pot of coffee while mentally prepping myself to make my weekly phone call to my dad. It's like the movie Groundhog Day.

He repeats the EXACT same stories to me almost verbatim. Tales from his youth. This has been going on for the past 19 months.

These calls last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. I've learned I cannot cut the calls shorter than an hour or my dad gets insulted, as if I don't have time for him & I hate ending the conversation with him being pissed at me.

I spend my pre-phone call, getting jacked up on caffeine time thinking up new responses to his stories that I think will make my dad laugh. Sometimes I just let him trip down Memory Lane uninterrupted because it seems to bring him peace.

My dad is in what I guess you would refer to as the "beginning" stages of Alzheimer's & my stepmother (Val) is experiencing what ANYONE would refer to as 'raging" dementia.
So they're a good time to hang out with for sure!

Especially at restaurants when one of them can't recall what foods they need to avoid because of their colitis while the other one is SCREAMING at the server for removing their favorite breakfast item from the Denny's menu, which might be somewhat entertaining for me if we were actually at fucking Denny's
right now instead of IHOP.
Me to server: Hey, I am sooo sorry about these two, and this is obviously gonna take a while...
so can ya just bring me some coffee when ya get a chance??

At this point I'm relieved that either of them still remembers who the hell I am when they finally pick up the phone after 57 rings.

Me: What took you so long to answer the phone, dad???

Dad: We were outside digging up a bush.

Me: Why were you digging up a bush?????

Dad: Valerie didn't like it anymore.

Me: Wait...WHAT? Stop moving around with the cordless phone, dad, it sounded like you just said Valerie didn't like a bush. 
Oh, that IS what you said? Oh, Ok. Well, did she used to like the bush?

And so it goes…...

But by far my absolute favorite conversation in the past 19 months was when my dad confided in me about the escalating and more frequent arguments he and his wife have been having of late and the method she came up with in order to not forget to be pissed off at him.


That’s great, right??

Somewhere along the way my stepmother woke up one day with some lingering remnant of anger towards my dad, but could not recall the specifics of the prior day.
She then devised a plan to keep the anger rolling well into the next day and the day after that, into the weekend and so on despite her ever worsening dementia.
She’s gone months and not spoken a word to my father. This has been going on for over 30 years….long before the dementia. Then she wakes up one day as if nothing ever happened. My dad doesn't say a word about it and that’s that. Once during one of her self imposed time outs she divorced my dad. Yep. She did. How they ended up remarried is still unclear to me. Still working on how to broach that subject with my dad and still not certain I care enough to even go there.

Dad: Valerie writes down what we get into a fight about now and puts it up on the refrigerator so she can remember the next day that she’s pissed off and not to talk to me.

Me: Wow! That’s fucking brilliant!!

Dad: She wants to remember she’s mad at me.

Me: But, dad, you know you could just take that note off of the fridge and get rid of it after she goes to sleep and none would be the wiser, right?

Dad: Now why would I do that, Penny? I LIKE not having to talk to her for weeks.

Me: Oh. Clearly I misjudged who the mastermind in your marriage is, dad.