I am sitting in my favorite chair, listening to the birds chirping madly away in their morning reverie and thinking of my dad. How he loved the birds that played in his back yard. He constructed feeders for them and would point out the cardinals and blue jays that would swoop in to eat, competing with the squirrels that thought the food was theirs.
I have so many great memories of times with my dad. He loved puzzles, road trips, cracking jokes, silly puns, and gardening. I love all those things too and truly wish I had spent more time with him in those activities.
Moving my parents to an Assisted Living Facility was life changing for both of them. The backyard birds, the gardening, their car, and many of the things dad loved went away. I left the bird feeders up at their place, but now wish I had brought them to my house.
When someone you love is ill, as my dad was with Alzheimer’s, you often forget about maximizing the time together. It’s easy to get caught up in caring for them while you are still running around maintaining your own schedule and busy life.
If I could spend some more time with my dad, I would carefully maximize every moment, even if it meant just hanging out together enjoying each other’s company.
Here are 3 things I wish I’d done to make most of my time with my dad.
Preserve the Memories
Journal their stories, or record an audio or video version. I wish I had used a tape or video recorder to capture his memories. I can’t pick up the phone to call him anymore to ask about a relative or event I am fuzzy on, or one I heard him tell me in my much younger days.
Create Meaningful Memories While You Can
Take the time to take that road trip or whatever activity is important to them. We get so caught up on our lives, with work and taking care of our home and running our own kids around. My dad wanted me to try out for Wheel of Fortune with him and I was too busy. What a memory that would have been!
Learn from Him
Dad love to woodwork and I have a charming cabinet he made. He was a bit of a handyman who also taught me how to hang wallpaper, change a tire and the oil in my car. But he always wanted me to learn to play Bridge, his favorite card game. He would travel to tournaments around Florida and sometimes to other states. I wish now I had learned to play from him and with him. We could have combined that hobby and a road trip and gone to a tournament together!
I realize now how precious my memories are. I think that is why I love to connect seniors to their memories.
My son and daughter-in law will be home in a few weeks. They along with my husband are big bowling fanatics and I’m not. But I decided to go with them to watch, laugh, take pictures and make some memories we can all cherish.
Previously published on The Good Men Project