My mother had always programmed me, that idle hands are the playground for the devil. It has been almost five years since my mother left and is enjoying her condo in heaven which I am sure she has totally organized and spotless. My dad wasn’t one to organize but loved to stack books, papers, bills whatever was out there. Over the last few years I have been learning how to actually slow down at times and as they say smell the roses or in this context enjoy the Haggen Dazs Ice Cream.
We moved my dad almost two months ago into a group home. I know that in my search for the perfect setting for my dad I have come up short. I was truly hoping for 24/7 caretaking that would always be there for my dad to stimulate him both mentally and physically. The reality is that dementia is a horrible disease that attacks your ability to think and perceive fact from fiction. My wife, the eternal conversationalist, would truly like me to sit with my dad and talk non-stop. Yet, I don’t think he is capable of saying much beyond thanks and give you a smirk that says either more ice cream please or if we are at Lynn’s Grand Buffett, more shrimp please.
I have started taking my dad to a close by mall. At first I was fearful that this might be tough on him with too many people or god forbid he become a materialist with all of the stores. Yet, what is happening is that we get away from his room, which is nice with the fancy HD LED TV with Dish TV and do something totally different. I know that my dad’s weakness has always been ice cream. Little did I expect to find a ‘clean’ mall that had great open areas, which are cool for coaster action on his walker and the prizewinner, great ice cream.
What has caught my attention since it opened was Sea Life Aquarium. I must confess that my dad was the one who got me my very first 5-gallon fish tank. Little did he know that this would grow into an adult addiction that has seen a variety of tanks, 55, 75, 125 and then the koi ponds? I have down sized recently to a nano (this means small but cool) salt tank that is 24 gallons. I also have a 200 gallon outdoor Koi Pond. So as I am planning outings for my dad it dawns on me I can get year passes and start taking him to this little aquarium at the mall.
So today was our first real adventure in the aquarium. I had attempted to do this last Friday only to discover there was a screaming mob of youth from many schools visiting the aquarium. So Monday has to be a good day, no one is going to be looking at Sea Stars or Manta Rays. Ah, I was surprised that there weren’t any school buses out front in the parking area. Yet, as we finished getting our passes with our pictures there was a small mob of kids at the entry. Yet, we made our way through the maze of little fish tanks of odd shapes and sizes and eventually saw the shark tank that you walked underneath.
I’m not sure what exactly was going through my dad’s brain as we stopped briefly at a few of the aquariums. He seemed to smile a lot and make a few comments. I know I loved seeing the various collections of Salt Fish. The colors and sizes are so striking and tantalizing to the eye. Again, remember I am attempting to maneuver my dad on his walker, which does quick 360’s, through a few narrow passages with a swarm of kids on all sides. As we approach what I hope to be the real exit and not some door that will eventually be marked STAFF ONLY, we do find the pathway to the store area where you can buy that plastic Nemo Cup or Sting Ray stuffed animal.
As we exit I know it is time to do some ice cream and let him or I should admit me, catch my breath. It has been a great morning and I have tried not to look at my iphone to see the time and think about what other things I can do on my day off. Dad, the real important thing today isn’t the ice cream you devoured but for me to be with you and hope you sense that I love you and want you to enjoy life as you are able!