The Last Birthday – June 11, 2014

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Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 12.59.13 AMMy father is 90 today.  As I start working on the blog, it’s midnight.  Every year, until the past five or so, we would always call him at midnight.  We would wake him up, with fireworks, pots and pans being pounded, explosions, smoke bombs, music, anything to make him get up out of bed.  My father was infamous for taking his sleep and his naps quite serious.  We were infamous for doing everything possible to see that he didn’t get a break.  Isn’t that what the philosophers say, never give a sucker an even break?  One year, we even set the side of the house, by his bedroom, on fire.  We were shooting off a couple thousand lady-fingers.  A couple went up inside the hand-split ceder shake shingles and caught on fire.  Fortunately, it was on the side of the house where my mother and I had a huge rose garden, with a major sprinkler system.  Let’s just say he did not get much sleep that year.

The year he turned 60, my mother put up a billboard going into town. She had a huge surprise party for he who was clueless, even when the caterer, including Greenville’s famous Vince Parone – himself – arrived to fix the meal.  He’s sitting on the porch, talking to my grandfather Froehlich, and a cousin who just happened to drop in for the day.  “What’s Vince Parone doing here?”  My poor grandfather could only laugh at him.  It was about that time a large big band orchestra arrived, and the circus tent was being set up, with tables and chairs being put under it.  He was still clueless.

One year I found an indoor confetti bomb.  Another year, when I was out of town, I called him every ten minutes for two hours until he finally disconnected the phone.  If we did not do something to him, he was quite disappointed.

Not this year.  It really doesn’t matter.  He won’t even understand why we were doing it, nor probably remember all those years.  What he does remember is the fact that The Most Important Person in the World is visiting, and that, having seen him in March, the little squirt, who will be 2 in November, remembered him, going right to him.  He remembers Cutie Catie.  He knows us most of the time, until the evening when he is Sundowning.

I pick up a cake around noon, then take it down to the parents’ house, where we will have the last of his big, annual birthday bashes – every year for 63 years the parents have been married.  My mother is having a difficult time.  I almost lost it the other day when I picked up a bunch of candles.  I realized it will be the last real time.  Oh, sure, he might be here next year.  But, his presence will be physical only.  We’re fortunate enough to know this, and to compensate and plan accordingly.  Such is life with Alzheimer’s Disease.

We’re lucky.  He’s not in pain.  He’s not really suffering.  He’s not in pain.  I don’t know if you can ask for much more than that, not these days.  We’ve been able to put off this moment for several years, dealing with diet, caffeine, and B-12 injections.  If we had known of his condition, earlier, I think we might have been able to stave off Stage 6 (where we are now) for a couple more years.

That’s the beauty of an early diagnosis of the disease.  Contrary to popular opinion, and what the medical community and the basically good for nothing, and useless Alzheimer’s organizations promote, there is a heck of a lot that can be done with the disease.  If caught early enough, there are indications it can be literally stopped in its tracks.

We’re so close to a cure!

So, we’re having the usual BBQ, beans, potato salad, I’m getting ready to go make a macaroni salad, and my mother has baked her 63rd annual chocolate cake, with white icing.  As you can see, life goes on, as another generation explores the delights of a picky-cake.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

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