Window visits with Dad
I know how lucky I am that my dad, and all the residents and staff at his senior home, are healthy and so far, virus-free. But I’m also terrified that everything could change in an instant.
Multiple Sclerosis confines Dad to a wheelchair and now COVID-19 sticks him in his room 24/7. He is very aware of the virus, as he says, it’s all they talk about on TV. Yet Pops somehow maintains his sense of humor and sweet compassion for others. While I desperately miss being with him and all our friends there, I’m keeping in touch with daily phone calls and a weekly window visit.
For years I’ve kept a diary of his ‘Popfoolery’ and I believe there’s no time like the present to share more of them. I begin with our recent phone calls and end with Dad’s witty and weird comments made in the past weeks during our window chats and in the few months prior to the shutdown.
The other day a staff member popped into his room while we were on the phone. She hollered, “Say hi to Terri,” and left. I told him I didn’t recognize her voice and asked him to describe her. He said, “She’s wearing a pretty green outfit.”
Another time while we were talking, women from laundry and housekeeping dropped in and out of his room as well as his certified nursing assistant. Pops said, “Women have been coming in and out of here all day long. It’s like a zoo over here!”
Once he asked me to guess who was in his room with him. After playing along and getting it wrong, he said, “No, no it’s the My Pillow guy.” I wondered if he just saw that jackass smooching President Butthole’s butthole in the Rose Garden.
One day as we were saying our goodbyes, Pops told me, “You’re the cream in my coffee. Oh wait, I don’t drink coffee. You’re the raisin in my bran.”
I called to tell him I had some good news. Without skipping a beat he said, “Did somebody die and leave us lots of money?”
Nurse Jeffrey replaced dad’s knee bandage, and when my rather OCD father directed Jeffrey that he needed to smooth every edge of the bandage to keep out the infection, Jeffrey smiled, told him he’d be fine and left the room. Pops said, “What does he know?” I reminded him Jeffrey is a registered nurse. “Yeah, registered to Saddam Hussein,” griped my dad.
CNA Cassie came into his room and asked Pops if she could take his temperature. Dad said, “Sure if you take it in my butt.”
Shortly after Michigan legalized recreational marijuana, I told him we could both pop some edibles to take the edge off. Dad said, “I’d rather have heroin.”
Pops had a bad case of the burps one afternoon when we were playing cards; belch, after belch, after belch. I finally asked what he had for lunch. He squeaked in a tiny, tiny whisper, “Nothing.”
Due to his MS, Pops often has muscle spasms. Once during bingo, his leg tremored, big time. He asked me if I saw it. I said I did. He said, “Sexy.”
Dad interrupted me during a phone chat to say, “Uh oh, hey Terri, there’s a lump in my pants. Oh never mind, it’s just a wrinkle in my underwear.”
It was very cold during my first window visit on March 16th and I had tucked my jeans into my ankle boots to keep out the wind. The first thing he did when he picked up the phone was point to my feet and say, “Terri, you look like a female lesbian.”
In a cognitive exercise, conducted by the activity staff, the room was asked what is a white lie? “It’s when a white person tells a lie,” piped up my Pops. And yes, a black woman asked the question.
When the subject comes up about Pops not being my biological father he tells people, “Her real dad died of leukemia. I’m her artificial dad.”
A new resident wheeled by us, looked right at my dad, and said nothing. My always-friendly dad said in rapid succession, “Hi buddy. Hey friend. Hi buddy. Hi pal. Hi buddy. Hi deaf guy.”
During a card game, somebody mentioned that somebody was Jewish. And that inspired this little soliloquy from my dad; “You know Jesus was a Jew. So were Mary and Joseph. Well, Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ actual father. God spoke to Mary from heaven and told her she won’t get pregnant in the normal way. God told her the Holy Spirit will go inside. And Mary said, what chew talkin’ ’bout Willis?”
While in the activity room in late February, my dad, Helen, Martha, and I were playing cards in the back. Resident Maddie, who has dementia and argues with everybody over absolutely everything, was causing a disturbance, ruining a game of dominoes. I said, what I thought was under my breath, sometimes I’d like to slap Maddie. Dad said, “Yeah, I feel like stabbing her too.”
Before I could correct the record, Martha veered off to a really dark place. “You know, I had a cousin who drove his wife into the woods,” Martha shared. “He parked the car and told her to get out and run. He filled her full of lead.”
I don’t know what was more disturbing. The grisly demise of Martha’s cousin’s wife or hearing a 95-year-old woman use the phrase “fill her full of lead.”
But I do know for the rest of my days on earth, we’ll speak of life in terms of before, and after, the virus. And President Moron’s godawful mishandling of COVID-19, which led to countless more deaths than had to be, will be documented in history books and etched onto his rotten corpse for eternity.