“What are we doing for New Year’s?”

Dad was in his room when I peeked in – sitting on his bed, not fully-dressed. He looked up and saw me start to turn away (I was going to get help for him) and he said, “No. Come on in. Don’t go away!” I told him I’d wait out at the kitchen table for him, but I’m not sure he heard me.

Gwen went in to help him and I sat at the table. When he came out he headed with Gwen towards the bathroom – and he told me, again, to wait for him. I assured him I would.

Five minutes later he joined me at the kitchen table.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I never get tired of hearing that.(Thinking.) Today is December 31st. What are we going to do today? What are your plans for tonight?
Karen: Today is November 7th.
Dad: Oh. (Processing.) I was two months off.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I wouldn’t mind.

In the car, heading towards Sisters Espresso…
Dad: What a beautiful day!
Karen: It really is!
Dad: What are we doing for New Year’s?
Karen: It’s November.
Dad: Oh. Yeah. That’s right. It’s a month away.

I stop at Sisters Espresso and buy Dad his root beer float. He takes his float from me and thanks me for it.

As we’re driving down Chuckanut Dad twists his head to the right and I know he’s looking for Mount Baker. I glance to the right just as Baker comes into view. I nod that direction and say, “There it is!” Dad looks and nods his head and keeps his eyes on the mountain.

I stop at the post office and run into my neighbor, Bond, there. He was at the book-signing last weekend and bought one of my books and one of Dad’s, too. I tell him Dad is in the car and he asks if he can come out to see him. Bond follows me out to the car and I open Dad’s door so he can meet Bond. I introduce Bond to Dad and tell Dad that he signed Bond’s book last weekend. Dad smiles at Bond and reaches out his hand to shake hands with him.

As we’re heading back to Dad’s home…
Dad: (Looking at Mount Baker.) I bet it’s cold up there right now.
Karen: Yeah. It looks like there’s fresh snow up there.
Dad: Do you enjoy these drives with me?
Karen: I do!
Dad: Mutual. (Thinking.) I like seeing your face.

I bring Dad back to his home. He doesn’t ask where he is this time. He unfastens his seat belt and I offer my arm as support as he goes up the stairs and makes his way to a chair at the kitchen table.
Dad: What are we doing for New Year’s tonight?
Karen: It’s November 7th. The elections were yesterday.
Dad: How’d it turn out?
Karen: The Democrats got the House. The Republicans got the Senate.
Dad: (Nods.) Oh. (Dad flips open the newspaper on the table and starts reading about what’s going on in the world.)
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you.

(Similar stories can be found in Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad. )

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Another Review for *Are You Taking Me Home?*

Another five star review on Amazon for Are You Taking Me Home Now?! 

Heidi writes: “This is a delightful book and Karen is a gifted writer. She lets us listen in to the conversations she and her 100 year old Dad have on their car trips, which had me laughing and crying. Interspersed are memories of earlier times. Having a relationship with an older person whose body and brain don’t work as well as it used to requires patience, humor and love. As someone else here said, ‘Karen shows us how to do it right.’ I enjoyed reading this very much. I highly recommend this book and will be giving it out for gifts.”

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“What am I doing?”

I stop by to see Dad after school. He’s napping in the recliner in front of the TV when I come in.
Karen: Hi, Daddy.
Dad: (Blinking his eyes open.) I’m going to go to… I’m going to go to… (He’s got important places to go and people to see and plans for himself, but… he looks up at me and grins…) What am I doing?
Karen: (Laughing.) I don’t know. Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: (Shrugging.)
Karen: Do you want to go back to your nap?
Dad: Yeah. I want to rest.
Karen: (Kissing Dad’s forehead.) I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen.

I blow Dad a kiss, and he waves back to me and smiles.

“I Really Enjoy These Surprise Drives!”

Dad is falling asleep in front of his breakfast when I arrive. I ask him if he’d like to go for a drive and he nods his head yes. Megan gets his shoes on his feet and helps him into his coat. I pluck his mountain hat off the lamp in his room and put it on his head. As we’re working our way down the stairs, Dad turns to me and says, “I really enjoy these surprise drives!” We head out the door and to the car. Megan calls after us, “You two crazy kids have fun!”

Dad: Well, what should we talk about today?
Karen: What do you want to talk about? (Thinking.) Have you seen any good movies?
Dad: Yes, I’ve gone to a lot of movies lately.
Karen: What’s your favorite movie?
Dad: Naughty Marietta. Jeannette McDonald and Nelson Eddy. What’s your favorite movie?
Karen: Wow! That’s a hard one…
Dad: Have you ever seen Naughty Marietta?
Karen: I think I’ve seen some of it…

I pull into the Sisters Espresso, and Dad lets me know he’d like a root beer float. I use the Sisters Espresso gift card our friend, Cindy, left for me to use when I take Dad on drives. When I bring back Dad’s root beer float I show him the card and tell him that Cindy bought him his drink today.
Dad: Tell Cindy I really liked the root beer float.
Karen: I will!

I turn onto Allen West Road…
Dad: We haven’t been on this road for a while. (He’s right.) That hill would be considered a mountain in Holland. (He’s right again.)

As I’m driving down Allen West I decided I’ll take Dad to the little Bayview Airport – the airport is surrounded by forest, and I think the color might be pretty there right now. When I turn down the road that will take us to the airport…
Dad: We’re going to the airport now. Didn’t we go on a flight there once?
(Now I have no idea if Dad has been on a flight from Bayview Airport – I would not be surprised – but I am impressed that he would remember he is near an airport that he visited with me once a year ago.)

We pull up next to the flight museum and Dad and I look at some of the old planes that are sitting out next to the museum. I point out the trail that goes by the museum and mention that this is where my sons used to run x-country when they were in high school.
Dad: (Nodding.) I remember. I remember waiting for the boys right there at the curve in the road. Do they still run here?
Karen: No, that was when they were in high school.
Dad: (Nodding) Oh. Yeah.

As we head back down the airport road I spot an eagle flying around above me. It lands on a fir tree and I pull over to take some photos. Dad is watching the eagle, too, and I find myself really grateful that he got to the ophthalmologist in time and still has one good eye and can see things like eagles sitting in trees. A little further down the road and a young buck crosses in front of us. I get out my camera to take a quick picture.
Dad: Does your camera have a zoom?
Karen: Yup!
(Dad nods.)

When we pull up in front of his home, he unsnaps his seat belt and gets ready to get out. I note that he doesn’t ask me this time if this is a drop-off place, or if he’s going to go home from here, or who these people are, or what he’s doing here. I’m grateful for this. He seems to know where he is.

Megan and I help him up the stairs and he heads for the living room, saying something to Megan about a football game. Megan starts laughing, and says the TV is already turned to it. He settles happily into his chair.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen. Drive carefully.

If you enjoyed this father-daughter adventure, you might want to check out Karen’s book, Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dada collection of stories just like this one.

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