A dinner I will always remember…

I now have thousands of digital photos. I have selected the “best” of them to post on my Flickr site or use as a screen saver but most of them remain poorly catalogued on my computer’s hard drive.

Every once in a while I get searching for one that I remember from years past and in the process end up scanning others that bring back memories.

I took this photo in 2001 in the kitchen of my ageing parents when I went for dinner one autumn evening not too long before they moved from their house into a senior’s apartment.  My mom was in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease and my Dad’s vision was failing badly.  They actually helped each other. Mom could read signs and labels and mail and Dad could then process information in a way that my Mom could not.  Symbiosis.after dinner drinks

Before dinner, Dad offered me a glass of wine.  He asked if I would like white or red and I responded that I would prefer red. He went over to the kitchen counter and fiddled for a few minutes with bottles and glasses, soon returning to me with an absolutely empty wine glass.  He looked at it and then said ” I guess I poured you white by mistake”.  Judging what you are pouring and into what are a challenge when you are visually handicapped.

Dad then headed out to the back yard with matches and some barbecue lighter fluid to start the barbecue. I offered to help but he discouraged me, saying he could do just fine himself. I crossed my fingers that the poof as the barbecue flamed up would not cause third degree burns.  Five minutes passed and no charred father returned so that, apparently, went OK. The meat did not fare as well.

About 20 minutes later Dad arrived back into the kitchen with three little black nuggets that were the remains of the M&M’s filet mignon he had “cooked”.  Mom, in the meantime, had burned some frozen peas and carrots onto the bottom of a saucepan on the kitchen stove and was, for the third time, reheating buns in the microwave.

The meal was … memorable.

Mom was disgusted with the quality of the meat and was convinced they should take the rest of the package back to the store for a refund.   I discouraged that, knowing that the flames shooting up from the barbecue with a visually impaired cook was more the problem.

After dinner – there would certainly be dessert and tea – Dad asked if I would like some Port. I declined but he got out a bottle and poured a glass for himself as Mom looked on. He had a bit of trouble knowing when the glass was full. Then there was the problem of picking this overflowing glass up with a hand that has a bit of tremor.  As you can see, he found a solution.

My parents both enjoyed a great sense of humour. We all ended up laughing, along with  Betty Boop and Jean Chretien who are looking back from the fridge door.

Mom has since passed away. Her Alzheimer’s disease gradually robbed her of all recollection and significant interaction. A sad decline for someone who was very social. Here is another blog page I wrote about Mom last fall. http://wp.me/p2wvIq-i7

Dad has become more handicapped with his vision but still goes strong at 93. Earlier this year he upgraded to a faster internet connection so he could join “the Facebook”.  This is proving to be a challenge, though, as he has problems seeing posts and navigating on his 25x expanded desktop screen where the mouse arrow is often nowhere to be found.

In August, he is heading to the East Coast with my daughter and two of his great-grandchildren for a beach holiday.  And likely a gin and tonic or two.  More memories in the making, no doubt.

5 thoughts on “A dinner I will always remember…

  1. John, I can’t believe the timing of this story. Yesterday my father, who is 83, suffered a mild stroke…I’ve just returned from spending the last 5 hours with him and am heading back shortly. While it looks as though he will completely recover, it was frightening and the speech difficulties he was exhibiting yesterday made me think, for the first time, about his mortality…he’s my dad and until recently, I hadn’t given a lot of thought to how much longer he would, or perhaps would not, be with me. He’s been the one constant in my life…sometimes near, sometimes far…hopefully I’ll have more opportunities for dinners like the one you’ve described above. Thanks for sharing this and giving me a smile.

    • It seems that there are lots of good memories that keep spirits alive even when they are gone. I get lots of smiles thinking of my mom. I also have lots of other stories that may emerge. I did publish another in a blog a few months ago after going to see gypsy. http://wp.me/p2wvIq-i7

      • So true, John… I feel surrounded by the “spirits” of my parents, even though they are both gone. My mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s too… after losing Dad 20 years earlier… It was hard to watch! Mom had “personality plus”, not perfect, but energetic and lively… with a positive attitude towards life. They say it’s 10% what happens to you, and 90% your attitude in response that makes the difference. Sounds as though you have had great role models… and so have I!

  2. The story has us in tears of laughter. We are sitting out on the balcony of an old fashioned Best Western in Effingham, Illinois. I think it is pronounced F’ingham. This brought back memories of Mom and Dad golfing together. Dad would hit the ball and it was up to Mom to watch where it went.. That would work, but by the time they got to the spot, Mom had forgotten where the ball was. Balls! Golf ones.

  3. What a great story- as someone who hasn’t done it yet, I’ve always pictured having to help ageing parents with health problems as just one big sad blob. Nice to hear that the hildarious moments and fun don’t necessarily have to stop.

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