Written by Jim Duchene, caregiver to his 95-year-old father and a generous contributor to the All-Weather Friend. Visit his website: RaisingMyFather.BlogSpot.com
When I first asked my wife if my dad could move in with us, she said Sure, why not? Her own father had passed away a few years earlier, and she had always gotten along with mine. Besides, he was a grown man. Self-sufficient. He used to be in the Army, for gosh sakes. During World War II. How much trouble could he be? The house we live in has a guest house in the front that is separated from our house by a nice patio. The guest house is where my father now lives, and the patio is where I enjoy drinking coffee and reading the newspaper in the morning. It's also where I enjoy drinking coffee and talking with my wife in the evening.
Did I mention that I enjoy drinking coffee? That's because I do. When I sit there, the kitchen is directly behind me. On the evening he moved in, I was enjoying coffee by myself, and I could hear my wife talking with my father.
"Dad," she said, trying to be nice and make him feel at home, "would you like some ice cream?"
"What's that?" he answered.
"Do you want some ice cream?"
"Do I want some ice cream?"
"Yes, Dad. Do you want some ice cream?"
"Ice cream." Pause. "Or would you like some later?" She was already trying to cut her losses.
"What about later?" he asked. Changing the question was a bad idea. Now he had to mentally shift from first gear into reverse.
"Would you like ice cream right now or later?"
"Hmm... ice cream. Right now, you say? Hmm... okay, it sounds good. What flavors do you have?"
"Just vanilla. I have to go to the grocery store to get more, but right now we only have vanilla."
"Only vanilla... hmm... ah... well... you don't have any other flavors?"
"No, Dad, just vanilla."
"Just vanilla. We ran out of the other flavors."
"You ran out of what?"
"Did you say you have other flavors?"
"No, Dad, we only have vanilla."
"You only have vanilla?"
"Yes, Dad, that's all we have," she said, a bit more firmly this time. It worked.
"Well, if you don't have any other flavors, I guess I have to have vanilla, but just serve me a little. You always serve me too much."
I don't know what he was talking about, since this was the first time my wife had ever served him ice cream, but she didn't reply. Instead, she took the ice cream out of the freezer and served my father a nice bowl of it. Meanwhile, my coffee's gone cold waiting for my wife to join me. I could hear her put the bowl in front of him, and then I could hear the clink of metal against porcelain. I finished the last of my coffee and got up to join my wife inside.
"This ice cream is not very good," I heard my Dad tell her.
I sat back down. My life's just become an Abbott & Costello routine.