Typically, even 40 minutes would be far for Dad but I thought it'd be worth it for him to be surrounded by all the familiar faces he conjures up so often, especially his brother, Leo. Dad would be comforted by this since he spends much of his time gripped by fear, confused because he doesn't know who people are or where he is. Even though there isn't much left that is tangible to the Columbia County Dad remembers, the desire to get there is as strong as if there was.
Throughout the day as habit, Dad typically seeks "a ride back to Columbia County". So today would be a bit easier than usual to get him into the car.
[Exhibit A: children not properly attended causing mischief.]
We spent most of the morning getting ready. It takes small milestones throughout the morning to make it to a 1:00 departure time for our group. I was trying to work at the same time. Not an easy thing to do...this is what happens when you try to work with your kids in the house... [Exhibit A]
In between work, I was tossing laundry, wrangling children and redirecting Bob. And I was
We wrangled the family into the car and headed towards Livingston.
I was in the back seat, squished to the right of Liam and Lil with a snoozing Lil drooling on my arm. We were about to go over the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge when I noticed Dad reaching for the handle in the car. [Exhibit B] His hand had been up and down to this location since he got into the car. For a moment, it had started to relax but ah...no, he reached up for it again.
In Dana's defense, we arrived in one piece, safe and sound. Dad didn't un-grip the handle, however, until Dana turned off the ignition.
I mentally celebrated another mini-success. We were alive. And we had made it to the Brown and Engel gathering at the Livingston Recreational Park in Livingston.
[Exhibit C: Smiling Quietude.]
Suddenly, all of the people he talks about were around him.
Even Bobby Briggs.
Bobby Briggs was friends with Dad when he was a small boy. I've heard Dad talk about Bobby Briggs, the Engels, Georgie Metz for years. When Bobby Briggs approached Dad, and said, "Bob! Bob, it's me! Bobby Briggs!"
Dad looked at him like he had two heads but he was smiling.
"Bobby! Bobby Briggs?! Holy Toledo!" Dad said.
I couldn't help but ask, "Bobby Briggs...? You aren't the one who peed on the electric fence, are you?"
Nothing like getting right to the point...but I looked at Dana, and I know he was wondering the same thing.
Dad loved to tell this story when he first moved in with us, sometimes several times a day, about how he was with this group of boys, out in the woods of Rossman in Columbia County, when one of the boys had to pee. One of the boys, unfortunately, decided to pee on an electric fence. Dad said they didn't know what to do. Their friend was laying on the ground, writhing in agony, and all they could do was stand around and stare at him. Dad said it was the worst crying he ever heard.
"No...no, I don't think that was me!" Bobby said, laughing. "Bob, guess who I saw the other day? Georgie! Georgie Metz!"
Dad looked astonished. "Georgie Metz?...Really? Georgie Metz? Gosh!"
Dana and I looked at each other. That was the boy who had peed on the electric fence!
Unfortunately, Dad didn't remember everyone. One man approached him to say hello. I don't think he knew Dad had Alzheimer's because he seemed somewhat offended that Dad didn't know who he was.
"Don't you remember me, Bob? You used to do my taxes," he said.
"Well...did you get a refund?" Dad asked.
"Yes, I got a refund," he said.
"Well, there you go!" Dad replied.
It was good to be in Columbia County again. There was more tangible evidence of the past than I expected. And for a moment, Dad was home.