One of the most surprising aspects of my dad’s bout with Alzheimer’s disease is how it has flip-flopped his relationships.
For as long as I can remember, my dad was in a hurry and very pre-occupied. If you wanted to spend time with him, you followed him, like a duckling behind a duck.
On Saturday mornings, my younger brother and I would be tossed in the back of our Ford Country Squire station wagon (complete with fake wood paneling!) to accompany Dad on his errands. (Actually, I think the reason was to get us out of our mother’s hair. My older sister and brother, like most teenagers, slept til noon.)
That was the pattern for as long as I can remember…I trailed behind Dad to spend time with him. And even if he was sitting still, his mind was elsewhere. He was thinking about work, mostly. He owned his own business, and it was the kind of industry that was hit hard by economic cycles. Despite his optimistic nature, Dad could never relax.
But now? Now Dad wants to tag along on errands with me. I try to save up a bunch of them just to give us something to do together. Just to use up his surfeit of spare time.
Dad is content to be a passenger and ride along in my mini-van (which, my kids tell me, is equivalent to a Ford Country Squire. Not cool.) Six months ago, Dad liked to go into stores or dry cleaners with me. Not now. He just sits in the car, like my pups do, happy to wait and watch people walk by.
The other day, when I dropped him back at his Board and Care, his face fell in disappointment. “Aren’t there any other errands we can run?” he asked.
For some reason, that makes me sadder than almost any other part of his Alzheimer’s.