A Moment in My Life – Monday, May 24, 2021
Jeannie Yee Davis
After church, I met up with my sister-in-law, Nancy, and her husband, Steve, at Norman’s Grill in Castro Valley for a lovely brunch before visiting my father-in-law at Oak Creek Memory Care Facility. When did I see Nancy last? Was it the Fall or Winter of 2019? Thank God for technology keeping us connected, which is invaluable, but nothing is better than visiting face-to-face. I’m warming to the idea of visiting in person again. Now that the three of us are fully vaccinated, we can visit together.
I enjoyed catching up with Nancy and Steve, and not because they bought me lunch, either. It was thoughtful of them, but that’s the kind of people they are. Since none of us live in the area, I’m glad that we found Norman’s Grill, which for starters, has a parking lot—imperative to me, and it will be our go-to restaurant when we visit Dad. Norman’s is a quaint diner with a decent brunch menu where we’re not limited to either breakfast or lunch. They selected breakfast, and I opted for lunch.
After lunch, we carpooled in their car to Oak Creek to alleviate their limited parking challenge. Dad sat in his “special chair,” that’s what he calls his wheelchair, waiting for us in the hallway. His face lit up so brightly that I needed sunglasses. The funny thing was that he had no clue who we were. The simple fact that we were there to visit with him thrilled him.
We took Dad out to the country garden, where a family of Mourning doves resides next door to a family of chickens. I don’t think the doves wanted visitors sitting in their front yard as one head honcho cooed louder and louder and more intensely the whole time we made ourselves at home. Nancy commented the mini forest surrounding the facility reminded her of their home that Dad built on Rockaway Beach in Pacifica. I found a photo of their house on Google Maps, but it didn’t jog Dad’s memory. He was simply like an impressionable child. We could tell him anything except it wouldn’t matter an hour later.
I called him today like I usually do. The conversation went like this, “Hi, Dad! This is Jeannie.”
“Good to hear from you again.”
“Do you remember who I am?”
“No, but you call me every day.”
“Do you remember I visited you yesterday with your daughter, Nancy, and her husband, Steve?”
“No, I don’t remember anything about a visit.”
And, that shot down the whole Sunday afternoon delight that now resides in my heart. Some people remember their past but have short-term memory challenges or vice versa. For Dad, every day is a clean slate. It’s not even like “50 First Dates,” where he retains the day’s memories. In a way, it’s good because he can’t remember any pain, but on the flip side, he doesn’t remember any good times either. He’s a stranger to himself all the time, and he doesn’t know it.
Dad desires visitors—that much has been consistent regardless if he remembers having visitors or not. I’ve come to terms with the fact that when I call or visit him, he feels great joy for the fleeting moment we are visiting together, which is good enough for me. I used to feel bad for him, but it is what it is. I have to accept what we do for Dad; he can’t appreciate it as we expect. That’s okay because we will remember the joy that he felt and recall that smile upon his face, which unbeknownst to us, is his gift for us to cherish always. For that reason, I believe that the acts of kindness we do for Dad it’s not only for his pleasure but in so many ways; we are doing it more for us.