Way back in the springtime when the family was planning our big trip to San Diego there was some talk about possibly putting together a celebration for them at that time, despite the fact that it would be a few weeks early. But then in May my mom's Alzheimer's Status took a dive. Since her functioning and awareness had decreased dramatically it seemed like a celebration in her honor would confuse her rather than delight her, especially since she would be in an unfamiliar and chaotic setting. We let that thought go and just enjoyed being together there in the big blocky house by the sea, all together.
As the summer wore on we didn't think much about the upcoming anniversary, but when August finally rolled around I found myself pondering the 50 year marriage of my parents. It seemed just as wrong to avoid the event as it did to place my mom in the center of a noisy party. At first it seemed like my dad would be happier just letting it roll on by, but later, as the day drew nearer he began to agree that we needed to observe the day together in some way. We decided to just meet quietly on our summery back porch and perhaps grill a few hamburgers. Still seems kind of anticlimactic, don't you think? I thought so too. I looked more closely at the calendar and realized that the weekend surrounding the 6th wasn't a busy one, so I got on the phone with my brother Peter and encouraged him and his family to come up for the weekend. I was so happy when they agreed. Peter and Sheri actually share an anniversary with my parents, separated by exactly 40 years. I found it very generous of them to join us for the weekend of their 10th anniversary.
Besides having Peter and Sheri, I also thought it would be nice to invite a few of my freinds over. I know that might sound strange, for me to have my friends over for a celebration for my dad (and mom too, I know, but truly, this was all for my dad). But I'll say that I just so happen to be blessed with many many dear friends in my life - wonderful wonderful people everywhere I turn. I consider that fact to be one of the great blessings of my life. And a couple of families who live in the neighborhood here have spent some time with my parents before and my dad had an absolutely wonderful time getting to know them and spending time together. So I thought he'd enjoy the attention of these fine people. It turned into quite a lovely evening - we served tasty enchiladas with a full spread of Mexican food, almost more than you could fit on one’s plate. (Don't worry, I managed somehow to pile it all on.) We had jazz music in the background and an ice bucket filled with tasty drinks. My mom was pleasant and calm and I was grateful to all my friends who sat beside her for a while and did their best to talk with her. I was happy to give my dad the gift of celebration, even though we did little but enjoy a summer meal together.
Witnessing my father’s care of my mom as she has walked the downward staircase of Alzheimer’s has been an incredibly emotional experience. One of the most tender things I have seen is how my mom, at least up until this point, has always found my dad to be her anchor, the center to her universe. As long as she has known where he was, she felt oriented. Well, him and a lipstick. For some reason, she just really feels better about life when there is a lipstick in her hand. A good man and a good lipstick; all a woman needs I guess. I know that sense of orbiting around him will most like decline and even disapprear at some point, but it’s been powerful to observe.