|My dad on his 90th birthday back in February|
On Friday, I picked my dad up at the nursing home to take him to Rochester for a cardiologists appointment. He needs to have major surgery on a cancerous growth growing on his left ear which is very painful, and growing very fast. He needed clearance from the heart doctor, due to his heart issues (attacks, stents, pulmonary hypertension, etc.) before the dermatologist would administer anesthesia. It's a 4-6 hour surgery. We're not really worried about the surgery itself, well, speaking for myself, I'M not, because there is no other choice. He CAN'T live any quality life with a hideous, huge, painful growth on and in his ear, and he is 90, and has fairly advanced dementia, and nothing would make him happier than to be with my mom in heaven, so... either way, whatever the outcome, I know we are doing what is best for my dad.
I was worried about driving him to Rochester Friday, though, because the only vehicle I had available TO drive that day was his car, he beloved Honda Accura. My dad has "car issues." In his dementia, he constantly asks about where his car is, where he left his car keys. He is always telling the nurses and aides he is leaving, that he is going to drive home in his car. After my mom died, my dad used to "take a ride," as he called it, every day, often more than once a day. He would just ride and ride and ride. Occasionally he would get a little confused about where he would end up, or he would get going, only to realize he had left the tea kettle on, and turn around and come home. Near the end of his driving time, he made some very poor decisions based on his attachment to his car, and that one thing, above all others, has stayed with him. So consequently, my sister and I were pretty nervous about me driving him to Rochester in his own car that he hasn't seen in over a year. Other options were tossed out and explored - should my sister drive down from Rochester and pick him up in her car? That seemed ridiculous to make two full trips, so I threw that out. I considered borrowing a friend's car, but most of my friends have Jeeps or trucks that would be difficult for him to get in. I even looked up and considered renting a car for the day, for $65.00, but in my frugalness, decided that was a waste of money too. So, I decided to gamble, and if he asked, I was simply going to say I was driving him to his appointment in his car - and leave it at that.
Imagine my flabbergasted, jaw dropping surprise, when, 40 minutes into our trip, my dad says, "I don't think I've ever ridden in this car before. Where did you get it?" Seriously? Wow. Totally unexpected. And not being a super fast thinker on my feet, all I could come up with was the lie that it was one of my husband's cars from work. He doesn't HAVE any cars from work, at his job. But, it seemed to do the trick. He told me it was pretty nice, rode nice, was nice and quiet, and that was that. Wow. I think my sister and I decided we seriously overthink things too much these days.
And before I left that morning, as my son was on his way to school, he was giving me a litany of precautions: "Be careful driving in the city. Be careful driving the Accura - the roads aren't great..." etc etc. And at the very end he said, "And remember, Don't let Grandpa Drive the Car." All I could think of was the book title, Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.
Should I write a book of my own, called Don't let Granpda Drive the Car? I bet it would be a best seller!
After the appointment, on the way home, as we were driving down the expressway, I passed a car that had a bumpersticker on its trunk. I saw it, but didn't think my dad had. It was quiet for afew minutes,and I had quickly turned my thoughts to other things, and then my dad said, "That is a funny word to have on a car trunk." Without really thinking, I said, "What word, dad?" and he replied, "Fuck." It is, indeed, the word that was on the car trunk, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my dad would SAY it out loud. And he gave no idication that he knew what it meant, or even that it might have been a not-so-nice word to say. It gave me a quiet little chuckle, that my father, who never said a bad word in his life, could have lost enough restraint to blurt that out, unknowingly. Kind of reminded me of when my youngest child, who was then three year old came wandering out of her playhouse saying that same word at that top of her lungs, having no idea that it wasn't a word for polite company. I washed her mouth out anyway. Should I have offered my dad some soap, I wonder?
Some days, it's all you can do to find the humor where you can, and savor it!