I have concluded my visit with my dad. He's back home up north and I'm back home in the wonderful Midwest.
This trip has been a mixed bag for me. If you've read the past couple of blogs, you'll know that I escorted my dad to visit a friend in Las Vegas.
You have to understand, Las Vegas is the last place on earth I'd choose to go for a vacation (please don't be offended my Las Vegas readers). It's just not my kind of thing. I don't gamble or drink (I'm a church lady after all!) and the knowledge of the sex trade that goes on there makes me ill. However, it's where my dad's friend is for the winter, so off I went.
This trip has been tough on a number of frontiers. My dads age (93) and his age related dementia (ARD), hearing problems, and his being unsteady on his feet made it a pretty intensive time of supervision and compassionate care that looked a lot like me going along for the ride (even though I drove).
My dads friend is a nice widow lady. When my mom was alive the four of them square danced together so she and my dad are comfortable reminiscing about years gone by.
My dear dad has taken somewhat of a shine to this lady however, she only wants to be friends and dancing partners and He (mostly, grudgingly) accepts this.
He's lonely. He misses my mom and the gentle company of a woman who loves him, and can relate to him in this stage of life, that much was clear. The time he spent with her was the highlight of the trip and no matter how much it was it was never enough.
This is how I found myself in a casino, getting a players card one night. His friend wanted to eat dinner in the restaurant upstairs and of course, you got a deal with that card. The card was also loaded with some "free money" to spend in the casino.
When dinner was over she insisted that I use the money on that card telling me, "You can't leave Las Vegas without playing the slots" (really, I could) and I could see that my dad's evening with his friend would be extended if I agreed to do so.
So I did. (Don't judge)
I slowly played out the "free money" on my card while my dad and his friend did their thing a few machines away. I listened to their banter and smiled at how much my dad was enjoying himself. He laughed and they chatted about things they both were familiar with, people they know from their dancing club, and memories of the past, about Her husband, and my mom.
When it was finally time to go back to the hotel I walked away with some winnings. A whole eight cents. A shiny new nickel and three brand new pennies.
As I sat on the airplane winging my way home I heard that money jingling in my jacket pocket. I thought of how much happiness I was able to give my dad by going on this trip because he could never have gone alone. I thought about how I overheard him tell her that he's missed her and was so glad to see her again; how he enjoyed our group day trip to Red Rock Canyon, and how I watched out of the corner of my eye as he shyly gave her the box of candy he brought from home because that is just how you treat a lady.
I'm thankful I was able to give him something that was important and meaningful to him. Life doesn't hold many real pleasures at his age.
He's been such a good dad...
I think I'll hang on to that eight cents. Right now it's just pocket change, but one day in the not too distant future I suspect it will be worth it's weight in gold.