You never know what you are going to get when you walk into Bickford. It always has the potential to surprise. Often the surprises are not good ones. It can be Dad hollering, “OH, NO!” as you walk in the door because you are not the one who will give him his bath. It could be Mom in need of personal care or room freshening (again). It could any number of usual things such as Mom having no clean pants in her closet, or Dad is out of Pepprigde Farm Jewish Seeded Rye Bread, or Mom’s almost out of Kellog’s Raisin Bran Crunch, or Coco is out of Science Diet or the bird feeders are empty or I just missed Mom because she’s out with Fonda for her biweekly coffee run (Kristi, it’s EVERY Tuesday and Thursday at 10 am) or Dad has to get to chair exercise RIGHT NOW or…well, you get the idea.
Today had similar possibilities. Dad was in the dining room finishing his mid-morning hot chocolate break. He saw us (Doug and me) and we walked down to his room for the usual “shriek” fest that conversation with Dad has become. It is so hard to communicate with him that it is despairing at times. We started out with the weather, small current events and the fact that Dad spends more time in the moment than he ever has in his life (a good surprise). It’s best when we can talk about experiences from Dad’s past because he does most of the talking, limiting my need to shout slowly and enunciate clearly. Today we got to talking about a common experience; a trip to Seattle, WA, that he, Mom, my sister Anne and I went on when I was a teenager. I have fond memories of that trip. It was beautiful there, great weather. We played on a Mount Rainier glacier and threw snowballs in the middle of August, criss-crossed Puget Sound in a ferry, travelled to the Pacific coast and then took a car ferry to Vancouver Island that was briefly and magically accompanied by killer whales. We toured a traditional British garden at night and there was a huge fountain that hypnotized me (I almost got lost!). All produced good warm feelings in both of us.
Then I found out the “rest of the story.” Apparently there was a four day weekend coming up for Dad. Mom(!) suggested the trip on the spur of the moment as Dad had recently expressed the desire to visit the Northwest. Dad cobbled together the trip and off we went. He also said we were lucky to get accommodations in Vancouver. That explained why we shared a weird suite at that hotel.
Another clue to the spontaneity of the trip was Mom looking at the AAA guide book for things to do as we rode along in the rental car. She read off a list of possibilities and then said, “Well, we’ll just have to pick and choose, pick and choose.” Then she moved on to Spoonerisms with, “Chick and poose, chick and poose, chick and poose.” Anne and I started to snicker in the backseat. It didn’t take long for us to reach LOL. She didn’t hear “chicken poohs” until the fourth or fifth repetition. (I never have outgrown bathroom humor.)
I will treasure the shared memories and remember that you never know what you are going to get when you walk into Bickford.