A Moment in Time
In June I lost my Daddy.
It was not totally unexpected…well, yes it was.
What I mean is he was 77, and that’s good, but up until two weeks before he died he was like the Energizer bunny…with Alzheimer’s.
Then, he got pneumonia and he was gone.
The last two years had been a time of complete change for Daddy as he went from living with a girlfriend, to not even remembering who she, he, or most of his family and friends were anymore.
He bounced from mental hospital to nursing home for all but about six months of the time as he was alternately lucid and then combative, docile one minute and aggressive the next.
Anyone who has had to deal with Alzheimer’s knows what I’m talking about.
I was the constant in his life, and right up to the end he held onto that connection. The dull blue of his eyes lighted with a spark of….recognition? Affection? Who knew. All I did know was that he seemed happy to see me when I visited him every week.
I don’t remember when I started taking him a Pepsi and a Snickers bar during these visits, but I don’t remember not taking them so I must have been doing it a while.
He loved chocolate, and he loved Pepsi..not Coke, not Sprite…just Pepsi.
He’d sit and slowly eat the candy bar and sip the soda as I prattled on about people and places he no longer knew during my visit.
We’d wash his face and hands with the wipes I carry when he was done, and then he’d sometimes take hold of my hand and we’d stroll the corridors of the nursing home.
Sometimes he’d speak, but his language skills were gone and the words were either a nonsensical stream or chopped into one or two-word phrases.
Except on the last visit to him when as I was leaving he asked, “Where are you going?”
“Back to work, Daddy.”
“Are you coming back?”
“Of course I am.”
“Soon. I’ll be back soon, Daddy.”
And as I walked away, I turned to wave and he called out, “I’ll wait right here for you then.”
I smiled at the sweetness of the moment. A fleeting glimpse, a reminder of who he still was even if he was lost most of the time.
I cried all the way back to work.
On the night of visitation, I relived this memory as I stood over Daddy’s body and marveled at how good they’d been able to make him look given how brutal his death had been.
I slipped the Snickers bar in his shirt pocket as my husband walked up and put his arm around me.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“A Snickers bar. I always brought one when I visited him, so it seemed appropriate.”
My husband stood there for a moment as I softly sobbed.
“You do know what their slogan is, don’t you?” he finally asked.
“Not going anywhere for a while?”