Friday, November 19, 2010

November visit - part II

This visit seems so relaxing, like. The last several visits have been whirlwind tours that have left me drained, exhausted, and sick by the time I get back to Denver. After the last visit I said never again. So this time I took a vacation day on Friday and didn't make many plans. Some of my dinner plans got cancelled so I had a lot of free time. Usually when I'm here it is all go go go, drive drive drive, with about 5 hours of sleep. This was definitely better but makes me feel like I should be doing more with my time.

Visited with my Dad again Sunday afternoon. We chatted in his room for awhile before they served his lunch. He's trying very hard to communicate. He knows what he wants to say and that the words don't come out right. "My voice is talking, but, NO." He's very willing to go back and forth with you so you can guess what he's trying to say, kind of like a game of charades. He'll let you know if you are on the right track, or if you're not. He might say "where" but mean "when". Still a lot of "next door" and "the boat". We went over names, he knows who we all are but usually can't say our names. You can give him hints or start to sound it out and he can usually finish it. K. Ka. will usually lead to Keri. Ma. Maura. We talked about birthdays and the dates on the calendar, his birthday and how old he is, that we have to work on his words but that he's talking much better. After lunch we went for a walk, watched the Lions game for a little while and then he asked me if I had my purse which is code for, I'm tired, time for you to go.

I ended up working late Monday and Tuesday but braved the nasty rain and even worse traffic to see my dad on Tuesday night. I don't miss Michigan's weather when it is cold and miserable! I got to Martha T. at about 7pm and thought my dad would be kicked back watching tv but he was in the second floor common area watching a bunch of the other residents play a dice game. He does NOT want to play, but he loves to watch! We sat and watched and chatted in between the action.

He's making such an effort to talk and communicate and be understood. But when simple words like when or where get mixed up it can make it very hard to understand. It took a lot of back and forth to figure out he was asking me WHEN I was leaving because it was coming out WHERE am I going outside. He would point to where we were, and then gesture to outside and say something about another building. It took awhile but he was asking When am I going outside aka when do I need to leave! The man is still very prompt! He can't tell you the time but he certainly knows what time it is and he'll remind you when it is time to go. This probably went on for a good ten minutes but he kept trying, and would stop to really think about what he was trying to say and then start again. He gave me a few "cool it"s or "slow down"...which was funny because he would say that in the past when we were getting snotty, and now he says it just to give himself a minute to think it over.

Katie has been putting certain events on Dave's calendar so I talked to him about when I am going to visit next. We practiced the months of the year and the days of the week. You would be amazed at how memory recall works. For example if I say it is Tuesday and ask what day tomorrow will be dad probably can't answer that. But if you ask him what the days of the week are, and start him off on Monday he can rattle them all off. The same with the months. We talked about who visited him when: that I visited on Thursday, that we all went out to dinner on Friday, I visited on Saturday and Sunday, Katie visited on Monday, and Maura visited him earlier in the day on Tuesday. He seemed to recall our dinner and Katie's visit the most.

People have told me he seems to want to tell them something when they arrive. This isn't 100% guarantee but a lot of times when I get there, he wants to know when I have to leave. This way he knows if we have enough time to go for a walk which is usually what he wants to do immediately upon arrival! Always the boss! And if you go to visit and Dave isn't in his room check the two large common areas on the first and second floor in between the elevators, he might be hanging out with the ladies and watching them play games.

I'll be back soon, December 10th. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November visit - part 1

I've had a trip planned to visit in December but with Katie having had such serious surgery I really needed to get in a visit before then. As luck would have it, I needed to do a packaging trial for work and our Detroit plant turned out to be the perfect spot. Two birds, one stone!

I flew in Thursday afternoon and stopped to see my dad.  He smiled real big and looked happy to see me. He immediately wanted to get up and stroll the halls before dinner. As he stood up he looked at me and smiled and said, "You look sharp!", then he looked me up and down and said, "Yeah, reeeeaaalllll sharp!"  Thanks Dad!  Not sure if he loved my sweater or noticed I lost a few pounds but either way, I'll take it. We made the usual rounds to nose in on what everyone is up to. Dad doesn't talk much but he likes to see what people are up to and watch people playing games. Everyone knows his name that's for sure. We went back to his room in time for dinner and I stayed with him while he ate. He insisted on walking me out when it was time to go. His orderly said he is the first one up in the morning - combs his hair, brushes his teeth, hits the town. As my dad used to always say, "morning is the best time of day!" We never agreed on that.

Friday I went for another visit. I find that an hour or a little more is about the perfect amount of time before he shoos me out of there. He had just eaten lunch when I got there and looked like he was getting ready for an afternoon nap. We looked at a magazine about Michigan and talked about the history of Grosse Ile. Went for a walk as usual, took a quick zip around the garden but it was a little too chilly to sit. We sat in one of the common areas and chatted some more. Then we went back to the room so Dad could have some more of the fruit smoothie I brought him and I could get my purse. It's so nice to be walked out, so sad at the same time.

Friday evening I had a burger at the Raft with Katie and Maura. Man I haven't been there in years! Katie is recovering and looks great. Maura is talking about college already! After dinner I took a drive through Algonac, looked at the old house on the Pointe and saw that they tore Henry's down. I tried to find a picture online but couldn't find a single one. Anyway, it was a restaurant by our house that had been around since 1937. I worked there in college, my grandma Bell worked there. Now it is going to be a parking lot.

Saturday I had lunch with Barb and Gwen and then picked up Katie and Maura for an early dinner with my dad. We went to Carrabba's again, his choice. His friend Laura was our waitress which is why he likes to go. When we got back Dad was trying to tell Maura something but it took awhile to figure out that he wanted to know if the boats are still in the water and when she told him yes, he said in a very worried tone, "oh man!" We told him not to worry that Katie has it all taken care of and it isn't freezing out yet, the boats will get out in time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A family outing to the farm

My sister Lori sent me the following email and pictures about an outing with Dad with his brother Richard and Richard's son Dicky. I always like to hear when he's out on the town, thanks so much!
Rich Jr. chuckled when he told me how he approached dad and his reaction. He said "Uncle Dave, we're breaking you out of here" Dad looked really worried. He didn't know what to think. But Rich quickly explained that it was just an outing, and dad smiled. He seemed to enjoy it, but as it was getting closer to dinner time I could tell he was ready to get back. You'll see us looking at a book together . It was a book about the history of Utica and surrounding area. Dad went through the entire book page by page and seemed to recognize some of the buildings in the pictures.

It was so funny when it was time to leave. We had dad stand with his back to the truck seat. Rich climbed in the drivers door and took dad under the arms to pull and lift, while Danny took his legs to assist and guide. They huffed and puffed and struggled. We were so focused on getting dad in the truck (yes, a big ole F -150) it didn't occur to us that the reason it was difficult was because dad had a iron grip on the door. It was Rich and Danny against ONE of dads arms. He would have won if he hadn't agreed to let go. He's still got it! That man is STRONG!

I hope we can do this again soon. We all had a great time.