Scones and Crocuses

Posted on March 24, 2015


Deev Murphy, bless her heart, called me up yesterday (Monday) to tell me that she and my dad had been talking about how he hadn’t really seen any any spring flowers yet. She wanted to let me know that there were some crocuses on Runnymede Avenue in Jenkintown. (Deev didn’t know the cross street; I think it’s Mytle). This is the sort of think that Deev, having found her calling in taking care of elders with mild to moderate dementia has focused in on. When you can’t hold an idea in your head for very long, when things hurt, when you aren’t very steady on your feet and the options of dancing, or fornicating, or late nights are over, you can still look for the first flowers of spring. She knows this and so when one of her clients is yearning to see flowers, Deev looks for flowers.


When I woke this morning I had that knife-through-the head sensation when the alarm goes off waaaay too early. I had had a rough night (up ’til four getting that sociology exam finished and printed for my students at Chestnut Hill College – and the blasted thing still had two typos in it – when I gave it to them – drat!). And every imaginable thing that could go wrong did go wrong (into the wee, small hours) with the computer, the printer, the paper, etc., and then this morning, Arkady was sick and couldn’t or didn’t want to go to school, and Zeus got up in the night and pooped (twice – one nice, firm (if aromatic pile and another sloppy and better-hidden mound that I missed the first time) in the living room, and then Bronzi puked in my dad’s bed – still for all of that, I was in a sunny mood. Not sure why. I had gotten at 7:15 am to make fruit scones for my dad because he likes me to make him breakfast and I don’t have time to cook eggs and bacon on the days that I teach. Just pulling the scones out of the oven and slapping them on a plate is all I can manage.

So, it turned out that I didn’t have to get Arkady out the door, which is almost always a battle, so I made some coffee and hung with my dad for a little while and even managed to leave for campus on time. I left a chaotic houseful behind at 312 (Lilu was with Sheila-the-wonderful-dog-lady), because she hates Jess, our housecleaner with all 38 pounds of ferocious, neurotic terror that she can muster). But Zeus, Bronzi, Rick (trying quixotically to sleep in), Arkady, and RJR (my dad) were all there when I left. The chaos was setting in – with Coryon trying and re-trying to get my dad on the phone to love and support him and continue to remind him that his driving days are over.

I got to campus, with two or three minutes and parked illegally again. (Thank goodness CHC doesn’t tow, merely gives impotent, ignorable tickets). I gave the exam, and then lingered for a long time at Chestnut Hill College, neatly inventorying the exams and making note of which students would have excused (due to sports or illness) or unexcused (radio silence) absences, and then I snuck, quiet as a bunny over to the Aquatic Fitness Center for the purloined pleasure of a half-hour massage. Jen, the masseuse, had taken care of her “Gramps” for the last partial decade of his life and had some loving suggestions of “tasks” that one can give to elders to help them feel productive and engaged. From AFC, I scooped up my dad and Arkady (first for an orthodontist appointment – outside the office of which I has a short, snarly conversation with Clare Doyle of the “office of student success” at CHC, and followed Arkady into the orthodontist. Bold as love, dad and I carried Bronzi in and simply told everyone that RJR’s Pomeranian was a service animal). From there we went to Starbucks, where Arkady (who had spurned all food from Jess, Rick or dad all day) had a snack and Dad had his first-ever tall salted caramel half-caf macchiato. From there we went to  the pièce de résistance, the still raw and leaf-smothered, but nonetheless extravagant profusion of flowers on a modest hillside.

To my delight, as we drove the couple of blocks toward the suspected flower site, my dad overflowed with the last stanza of a Wordsworth poem:

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

And then he shook his head a bit and said, “Oh, no. It’s crocuses, not daffodils…”
This is another one of these entirely delightful moments where there is the literary outpouring tinged by confusion. He had that instant of aphasia, forgetting what kinds of flowers we were actually going to see and then the 19th-century verse. I swear – what is in this man’s mind is amazing. Yeah, everyone thinks I am an encyclopedia – not compared to him. I never truly had a photographic memory and I don’t really have fullblown hypermnesia, but he is really amazing (later in the evening, he was regaling us with his recollection of the first time he heard the song “As Time Goes By.” He was in sixth grade and he told us his teacher’s name and I am confident that he was correct. I feel utterly inferior when I get the tiniest taste of what’s in his head. I’ll be that he has portions of 200 poems memorized.
Then we went home to rack of lamb, spätzle, and green beans, and then we sat around listening to Rick play the ukulele. Barbara was freaking out a little bit tonight. She has had some loss and disruption of her own this week, and she subsists pretty close to the bone.
So, there were a few moments of friction and some leaking body fluids; however, it was another fully-lived awesome day. May tomorrow be another.
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