My mom was confused when we first moved her and my dad from their assisted living community into our house. Wherever she thought she was I don’t know, but she knew it wasn’t their last apartment, their last house, or any of their vacation homes. For some reason, despite having visited us here for thirty years, our house was completely unfamiliar to her; she seemed to think she was staying at a holiday resort.
My dad’s Parkinson’s was so advanced by then that his ability to drink from open vessels was almost gone so I devised all kinds of cup-lid-and-straw apparatuses for him. On one particularly harried evening, I rushed in the door with my father’s favorite, pastrami and Dr. Brown’s Diet Cream Soda from his second-favorite deli, and plopped the heavy bag on the kitchen island. Diving in I began to distribute packets and cans around the table. Vikki grabbed plates, silverware, and napkins so we were organized pretty quickly. My mother turned her head and saw my father lifting his soda can. Turning to Vikki, she sighed then said in a disappointed voice, “This accommodation doesn’t provide straws.” Stifling a laugh, Vikki answered, “Maybe you’d better ask to speak to the manager.”
Rolling my eyes, I walked across the kitchen to the glass-fronted cabinet and retrieved the glass from Wo Fat’s Chinese Restaurant in Oahu, in which I stored a array of colorfully striped paper straws like those I remembered from my childhood. Selecting one, I popped it into my dad’s soda can.
I don’t know how this multi-year adventure in pandemic elder care will turn out. Probably an amalgamation of really happy, extremely sad, and profoundly surreal. However it turns out, though, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Well, maybe a month in Tuscany but not for much else.