First day of a journal about caring for Richard Redd

Posted on March 23, 2015

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Monday March 23, 2015

It’s Monday, and I don’t have to teach on Mondays.

This means I can help get 12-year-old Arkady out the door with relatively little stress, walk the dogs, Zeus and Lilu, over to Jenkintown Elementary School and then cook my dad a nice breakfast. Today it what my family calls “toads in a puddle,” one strip of bacon, OJ,and the new coffee-cocoa that Dalea likes.

Richard Redd and Bronzi March 23, 2015

The toad in the puddle (what some people call an egg in a frame) inspired my father, Richard Redd  to reminisce that (for him) the breakfast item first appeared in Moon over Miami (1941) (called a “gashouse egg” in the movie) and then he sang for me the song offered by the waitresses in the movie, played by Betty Grable and Carole Landis “What Can I Do For You?” “Good morning friend, we recommend…Blue Plate #2”
toad in a puddle

And he added that he used to sing the song to his “true love,” Carol Grener, as he brought her breakfast in bed. It was a sweet morning.

My dad is now living with us in Jenkintown on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and being picked up on Wednesdays to spend the latter half of his week at his own house, supported by Barbara Bailey, his assistant, whom I hired in autumn 2013.

This delightful breakfast together and a lovely, sunny early spring day were followed this evening by Arkady’s getting a first taste of the inchoate wrath and frustration that one can experience from a person in even early dementia. Although we (Rick and I) explained at dinner that Rick had a Jenkintown Borough Council Meeting and that I needed to write and print an exam tonight (and therefore need to work, alone, in my office, with the door closed for the rest of the evening) and that, after dinner, Arkady would turn on the television for my dad and, after the news, watch a movie that the two of them had chosen together (Jeff Who Lives at Home) my dad had totally forgotten these arrangements 20 minutes later and lashed out at Arkady for not staying with him during the news to help him operate the television. His angry outcry was so piteous and poignant, “Where is everybody? Sometimes I feel so isolated in this house!”

He had been attended to for every minute today. I made him breakfast, stayed with him until John Murphy came to take him to lunch and gallery hopping, then John and Deev stayed for a good half hour more, then he sat in the sunroom while I made dinner (potato and leek soup, grilled sausages and corn), then we all ate dinner together, then Arkady turned on the television and left him alone for only a few moments.

This sweetness, this helplessness – will be our life for the next however-many years. I embrace it. I understand it. I am extraordinarily equipped to contend with it. My brother, sister, brother-in-law, daughter, nephew and husband are in full consensus in taking care of my dad. I am loved and supported, but sometimes it’s just hard and I have to rise to the occasion with grace and style.

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