As most of you know, I don’t tend to write about family or work here. I’m going to break my rule with this post. I don’t think any of my family reads my blog as I haven’t told them about it, but just in case, I’ll probably only leave this up for a few days.
Although I have little desire to live there, as one raised up in North Carolina, the Old North State will always be home and it was good to be there for Christmas this year. However, it would be quite a stress to say that our little trip south was completely idyllic or stress free. Sure, there were moments such as running around in the boat off Lookout, or in the backwaters of lower Cape Fear, walking on the beach, and attending the Candlelight Services on Christmas Eve. But there was also a lot of tension. For the past year, my brothers and sister and I have known that something was happening to Mom. Last summer, after a series of test, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. So this year, we all planned on being there on Christmas. We almost made it; one of my brothers who lives six hours away had to cancel at the last minute when a stomach virus ran through his children. But the rest of us were there and even his family got down a few days later. It was good to see everyone and it was good to be there on Christmas morning.
Some might think that evenings around my parent’s house are strange. The TV is seldom on. We read and talk and listen to music and occasionally work puzzles or play games. Mom has always had a habit of reading aloud stuff she finds interesting, although some of the stuff that she read this trip left me scratching my head. Not only was it not interesting, I’m not sure she knew what she was reading. She read odd tid-bits out of the newspaper, and on several occasions re-read the same tid-bit an hour or so later without realizing that she’d already read it. Then there was the evening she picked up and started to read the Consumer Reporter Buyer Guide that had come in the mail. Although none of us, to my knowledge, are in the market for a new car, she’s read about each one, saying this one gets a solid black dot for reliability and this one model gets only half a dot for safety and so forth. Then she’d ask about different cars. "Who makes Acura?" she asked several times. It was all very strange; no one really listened. The rest of us were busy putting together my daughter’s toys or reading our own books and just acknowledged that she had said something. We went to bed when she started in on washing machines.
The touching part of all drama was my father. He really loves my mother, a love that has grown stronger in fifty years of marriage. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for my mother and it shows. Sometimes he does too much, such as answering her questions and taking over for her in the kitchen. But mostly he doesn’t seem to be affected by her strange behavior that, in a heavy enough dose, would drive me up the wall. He’s still her knight in shining armor. I don’t know how he does it and when I compare myself to him, I feel inadequate and wish I could be more like him.
One last thing, on Tuesday, my dad and daughter and I went out with my brother and his son, to do some target shooting out off the lower part of the Cape Fear River. We spent a good hour up on shore and when we came back, the tide had come in quite a bit. My nephew and father and daughter had a good laugh when my brother and I both fell into deep water when we stepped into a hole. Later that night, my daughter told me she was sorry she laughed and assured me that she was ready to go out and get me if I didn’t get up. But we got up fine and nothing except our clothes got wet and we got back into the boat for a chilly ride back to the dock.