It’s been both hard and very gratifying to be here with my parents. Daddy has known me since I’ve arrived; there’s been no hesitation at all about that. Sometimes he has been so asleep that we can’t wake him enough to talk at all. When he is awake, he has trouble speaking clearly (we assume he is continuing to have small undiagnosed strokes), and it can be extremely frustrating for all of us to try to communicate. However, some of our times together he has been remarkably lucid and articulate (considering, of course, his overall condition with dementia and stroke). This afternoon was one of those times.
“I love you” are words he always says with crystal clarity; today he said them many times. When I told him that I think of him all the time, he said “I think of you all the time, too”; then, “I think of you in more ways than you can imagine.” As we continued to talk about our love for each other, he said, “I know you love me, and I love you, and Jesus loves us all, too.” And we talked about family – the love within a family – and he said, “good families are good people and raise good kids.”
I told him that he and Mother had certainly always loved us (my brother, Mike, and me) well, then teased a bit, saying I couldn’t say the same about Mike; big brothers and baby sisters don’t always get along. He said, “You’ll always be that.” “Mike’s baby sister?” I asked; “You’ll always be,” he said; “you can’t catch up with him.” (His “baby sister” is 81 and that’s what he still calls her, too.)
When I leaned down and hugged him, he said, “I appreciate that.” A little later, I leaned down again to put my head against his chest, and he lifted his hand and put it on my head, patting my hair with his fingertips; he didn’t want me to sit up and held my hand tightly for a long time after I did. Today (and a couple of days ago as well), he stared at me for a long time, silently, Mother saying he seemed to be memorizing my face; then he told me, “You’re pretty” – words no girl is ever too old to hear from her daddy.
A conversation about pictures came about because K had our camera with him and Daddy noticed it. Daddy talked about taking pictures (he and Mother took a lot over the years) and said something in question form about “where and why”; when I said, “why did you take so many pictures? So we can remember it all,” he grinned that same old grin that’s always characterized his happy, a bit mischievous mood.
When we left, he told us, “I’ll be here when you get back.”