Bonfire Life
June 19, 2019

Used to be ...

There's not enough time and too much time wasted as far as I can tell.

That revelation came while driving back from Sudbury last Saturday afternoon. 

I had visited Pops a day before Father's Day with my sister (she took the pic above outside his Pioneer Manor room). We had shared our birthday together the night before in Garson, Kim turned 50 with a gathering at her place that included her husband, our Ma, sister and her husband, plus a nephew.

We had strolled down the hallway and had some time outside together. He read the card we gave him about two dozen times. It gave me an idea to put together a picture book for him to flip through. Another idea for the job jar.

Dad seven years ago celebrating his 77th birthday at the hacienda.
Dad seven years ago celebrating his 77th birthday at the hacienda.

Used to be a time when I was the little guy holding on tight to my daddy's hand. I don't quite understand what kind of dementia he's suffering, I'm guessing stroke related. He brightens for visitors and seems to recognize them. Words come out but no sentences per se. At one point though, while trying to read the card and getting stuck on the first word, he looked at me and quite clearly said, "God damn it."

I don't visit enough. The Highway 17 drive is deadly and I've got a hundred excuses, including a lot of work to do. I'm in hustle mode as my severance from the Nugget ends after this summer. 

Golfing near Sault Ste. Marie, must be 10 years ago for sure.
Golfing near Sault Ste. Marie, must be 10 years ago for sure.

Last month, my Ma, sister and I dipped into his savings for a bucket list ocean cruise along the Alaskan coast. It was something we all wanted to do and it was a good thing for the three of us to do together. When he was young and spry, I don't think he'd pick that cruise. It's fair to say he liked golf more than glaciers, although in his later years he'd marvel at the leaves rustling in the wind. Every time he came to the hacienda he'd smile and make a comment about the colours as the tree tops swayed. The evening light hits the tops of some tall poplars in my backyard and we'd just sit there and stare at the magical sunset show.

During the cruise, I'd think about him and was glad our 'senior' sister Donna stayed behind to look after him. Kim and I met a couple from Australia, Ian and Lois, and chatted with them a couple times. They would have loved to meet my folks when he was able. Even now in his diminished state my Pa is a happy-go-lucky little leprechaun. Some people with Alzheimer's end up a little cantankerous. Not so with Deirl Alvin Dale, he's a lovable little kid for the most part and I don't know anyone who thought otherwise. Especially the last 15 years or so.

Dylan with Grandpa in the hacienda kitchen, I think 2008.
Dylan with Grandpa in the hacienda kitchen, I think 2008.

Not a small blessing, I guess.

Also happy to have had my own little guy call me from Waterloo on Father's Day. Enjoyed that conversation. We're all about 30 years apart.

I'm scheduled to interview Bob Wood for one of my podcast shows tomorrow morning. We'll end up talking about the progression of his Alzheimer's as well as whatever else comes up. He was a special guest for a fundraiser held last September. It will be interesting if there is any noticable decline. I hope not too much.

One of these days I'll do some more in-depth stories about the disease and the latest theories about what is driving an increase in the number of people impacted.

Maybe when my partners and I launch our monthly print news magazine this fall ... watch for details coming soon. We're aiming to produce a magazine that allows kids my age, the so-called Sandwich Generation, to enjoy while also sharing with both their young adult children and parents. The website wil try to pull everyone together as well. 

That's the hope.




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