I visited dad tonight. When I get to the home about 6pm, I find him still sitting in the dining room. He and a handful of other residents have been left at their tables. The staff are long gone, probably having begun the task of getting others to bed. I wonder how long he would have been sitting there had I not arrived.
As I come around to the front of dad’s chair he flashes a huge grin and greets me enthusiastically. We go back to his room, and I begin to relate to him the events of the past few days. He listens with rapt attention, occasionally nodding or smiling.
I tell him about a video that I watched on FB earlier this evening; which showed a small slum in Paraguay whose residents fashion musical instruments from crude materials salvaged from the nearby landfill. Dad seems acutely interested as I describe a boy who played a cello made in part from a discarded metal barrel. When I promise to bring my laptop on my next visit and show him the video he responds “That would be good.” His level of alertness and engagement is good tonight. Often I find him tired and minimally interactive.
After a while I wash dad’s face with a warm washcloth and patt some Aqua Velva on his cheeks. Although he recognizes the smell he cannot identify the name. I reminisce out loud my memory of watching him shave and apply the aftershave. He smiles in response. Just then the cat in residence jumps up on dad’s bed and makes himself comfortable on my coat. Dad chuckles in amusement.
My favorite moments with dad are evenings spent quietly in his room. On most occasions the one sided conversation runs out of steam quickly and he begins to doze. It is then that I kiss him good night and wish him sweet dreams. I leave with the lights of the ceramic Christmas tree glowing, and classical music playing on his radio, content in the knowledge that he is comfortable and at peace.