Sunday, January 26, 2014

Prompt: Describe a family member

I’ve never known my Dad as a young man. He’s always been “old.” Always balding and grey-haired with wrinkly skin. I was aware of this but used to it. My friends’ parents were always younger. It seemed odd to me. I got to the point where the idea of “old” became a very relative term. Especially when I heard people talking about how “old” there grandparents were. I had a grandmother who lived until she was 102. The only person I ever knew who was born in the 19th century. So I would gauge “old” relative to my Dad. Someone says their parents are old and I’ll ask, “How old?” Anyone younger than my Dad was still a kid as far as I was concerned.

I remember the first time I really thought, “Man! Dad’s getting old.” I spoke to him on the phone from a film set. For the first time I could recall, I didn’t just hear Dad talking, I heard an old man talking. When he moved into an assisted living facility in 2013, I was told that he showed signs of dementia. I wasn’t surprised to hear this since he was 89 years old, but it didn’t really sink in until I visited him for Christmas and he was talking to me and my girlfriend about church and ask me if I was “familiar with the LDS?”

I was surprised by this. I said to him, “Yeah. I was baptized the same day you were.”

Then he remembered. “Oh, yeah,” he said.

We joined the LDS Church as a family in 1983. We were members for over 30 years and he simply forgot. Then my step-mom told me about how he’s been confusing her for my late mother. Mixing up memories and reconstructing them into a different narrative of his life. I’m glad I was able to talk to Dad and record some of his stories while he was still more lucid. I don’t think I could get much in the way of a story out of him now. Which is a pity because he has lead a fascinating life.

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