Unlike their 50th anniversary shin-dig, this time it was a low-key celebration. But nevertheless, celebrate we did, as Mama and Dad made it to the huge milestone of 60 years of marriage.
Going out to eat is always a lesson in frustration for my Alzheimer's-stricken Dad. He has no idea what to order, so Mama has to order something for him, then he's impatient as all get-out because it takes a few minutes for them to bring the food. At this stage of his disease, Dad seems to have no concept of time at all. Just like a two-year-old. Or maybe less patient...
But since we'd told our sweet waitress about the big milestone, she wanted to give them a big dessert to share. When she asked what dessert they would like, Dad said, "I don't need any dessert. I have my dessert with me all the time."
How. Sweet.!!!! One thing that hasn't changed in 60 years...Dad adores Mama!
Back at their house on the County Line, we looked through pictures from their 50th party ten years ago. It was a cold, snowy event that day too, with lots of weather-related challenges to overcome, but somehow we managed to pull it off.
We gave them matching Schwinn 1955-model bicycles, which they faithfully rode together often until a couple of years ago.
Ten years ago, we had no idea that we'd all be devastated by Alzheimer's today.
This year on their 60th anniversary, Mama, Dad, and I watched the video us kids had made for their 50th celebration, filled with pictures from their years together set to beautiful music. Ten years ago, putting together a show like that was quite complicated and required a professional. As Mama and I cried our way reminiscing through the video about times we'd never see again, Dad was unfazed and I don't think he even realized what he was watching. Several times he got up out of his chair to go check on the temperature. Again. To see if the mail had come. Again. To look out all the windowsin the entire house to see who else wasn't there. Again.
Perhaps it's better that way, that in the cruelty of Alzheimer's there is a bit of grace in that Dad doesn't realize what he no longer has. As it is, it's heart-breaking for us...but that would be heart-breaking for him as well.
Mama and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to reconnect all the computer wires that Dad decided one day last week to disconnect and curl up into a pile. Despite our best efforts, the internet still isn't working.
We ate some cake that I brought for the occasion, cake that Dad had been obsessing and wanting to eat since I walked in the door (again, like a 2-year-old). When we sat down to enjoy it with a cup of coffee, Dad picked up the broom and began diligently sweeping the kitchen floor (that is DEFINITELY NOT the Dad I know!), and it took considerable coaxing to have him put the broom away and have a piece or two or three of cake. Seems these days Dad loves his sweets more than ever...
We took a little afternoon siesta...Mama and Dad in their chairs and me stretched out on the couch. Dad insisted on carefully covering us both up before he settled down. Again...not my Dad...but very sweet, nevertheless.
Mama has a white board that she updates every day for Dad to refer to. The problem is, he usually forgets to refer to it.... But anyway, it warms my heart that she finds joy in every single day despite what she has to cope with. If I can only be half the woman Mama is....
I adore them both!!! We all do.
As I left, Dad grilled me in the Dad-voice I remember from my youth, as if I were a 16-year-old leaving to drive into town. What car are you taking? (my own car, Dad). Where are you going? (into Hagerstown, Dad). What are you doing there? (going to the library, Dad). [with a puzzled look on his face...] Are you going to sleep in the library? (ummmm.....no, Dad).
It's getting too late to be out. Be sure you come right home. And be careful backing out of the driveway. Stay in the ruts so you won't get stuck in the snow. (Okay, I will, yes Dad, I will).
Hugs and kisses and I'm finally out the door. I look back toward the kitchen window after successfully backing out through the established ruts in the snowdrift, and predictably there they both were, waving at me. And I waved back through tear-blurred eyes.
I so love them. And I'm so glad I got to spend their special day with them...
...their sixty-year milestone.