Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Old Dad

I visited my dad today at the assisted living community where he stays.  I stop by there usually once or twice per week.  He has adjusted seemingly well to the facility, which offers a lot; activities, a lot of staff and outings.

When I arrived, he was in a group, which consisted of about eight other residents and a staff member who was walking them through the various news items of the day.  The staff person had a dry erase board and was putting news items into categories onto the board.  The columns included, “politics,” “environment,” and “finance,” among other things.  

I sat down in a couch on the perimeter of the room and the instructor noted to my dad that he had a visitor.  He got up slowly and creakily, and eventually made his way over to the couch I was sitting on.  He has difficultly understanding sentences and needs them repeated for clarity and he forgets that I know the staff and asks if I’ve met them each time I visit.

Seeing him now makes me think of when I was a kid trying to imagine what my parents would be like when they were old.  I think I got the physical part right; the slowness, the rigidness and the hard of hearing.  But I never really imagined such a cognitive drop off in both of my parents.  It's just not something I would have thought of as a child or a teen.

And so I look at my dad, sitting there on the couch with me at age 82, and I think to myself, he’s very sweet, he’s very gentle, and he’s, well, very old.