Monthly Archives: June 2015

Happy Father’s Day?

Everyone is celebrating Father’s Day today. Well, except for those who’ve lost their fathers. They’re posting old photos on Facebook and saying how much they miss their dads. For them it’s a painful day, just as is Mother’s Day without a mother. It’s what happens, though — best case scenario; children are supposed to outlive their parents. I recently wrote about the fear of losing my mom. It’ll happen one day. And I’ll lose my dad one day, as well.

But really, I’ve already lost my dad. Sure, he’s still breathing. I called him tonight to wish him a happy Father’s Day. But our conversation didn’t last long…pretty much the bare minimum. My sister’s taking him out for dinner. This is how that’ll go: He’ll ask, “What are we doing here?” Having dinner, dad. “Have we ordered?” Yes, dad. “Have we eaten?” Yes. “What’d I have?” You had the chicken. “Chicken. Did I like it?” Yes, you did. “Are we having dessert?” Yes, dessert is coming. “Oh, good!”

He can’t carry on a conversation. He can’t read a book because he can’t remember beyond the page he’s on. If he watches a movie, by the time it ends he’s forgotten what happened in the beginning. And the middle. “What’s that all about?” he’ll ask. He can answer all the questions on Jeopardy, though. And he’s not bad at Wheel of Fortune. He loves Criminal Minds and says each of the stars’ names out loud, elaborating on some: Matthew Grey Googlebobber! Kristen Vangenessessesss.

Even when he isn’t say things out loud, he’s speaking. Whispering. Mumbling. His mouth is always moving, giving voice to the words that are rolling around in his brain. Our minds are never quiet, I guess. But he’s endlessly speaking his. And I don’t mean opinions. More like unrelated words. Names of people he went to grade school with. Random bits of information from his corrupt hard drive. He can’t hold still. His fingers tremble. He taps his feet. His head wobbles. Watching him eat soup is horrible. And humbling.

He’s driving my mom crazy. Every morning she nags and cajoles just to get him out of bed. He needs to be reminded multiple times to shower. Take his pills. Change his diaper. To do anything.  Yet in his uselessness, he’s still sweet. Every day when she leaves he asks my mom if there’s anything he can do for her. (Not that he can actually do anything…) And when she comes home he offers to take her out for dinner.

Once upon a time my dad cut an imposing figure. He commanded authority.  Six-foot-four and dashing in his pilot’s uniform. A shaggy dog story teller and hail-fellow-well-met. Charming and handsome. Now he’s stooped and feeble. Shuffling along with a walker. It’s awful. Getting old is just awful.

I suppose I should be grateful that I still have my dad, that I have both my parents. But dementia is heart-wrenching. Like watching a beautiful watercolor get caught in the rain. Soon there will be nothing left but a white page… It’s a horrible thing to say but death would be better than this state of suspended animation. I’d prefer to remember him as a whole, vital human. Is that terrible?

Not knowing what day it is or even what season it is isn’t living. Moving from bed to bathroom, kitchen table to La-Z-Boy and back again isn’t living. No friends left alive. No one to visit him. My sister’s kids are great with him, bless them, though recently he wasn’t able to recognize her eldest. “Who’s that guy?” he whispered to me at dinner. Yes, he’s grown taller and his voice has changed, so he doesn’t look like a kid anymore. New information. Zero retention.

We console ourselves with “At least he’s not violent.” But is that a good benchmark? A proper way to measure one’s existence? His heart is still strong and his lungs are in good shape so he could, conceivably, live another bunch of years. I think it may kill my mom. She’s wasting away. So yeah. Happy Father’s Day. And apologies for this being less than cohesive. It wasn’t easy to write…

The Lifeguard

I’m sure if you’ve been reading this blog you believe that all my dates are complete failures, that I’m incapable of finding enough common ground for an actual relationship. Or a second date. That may be mostly true. And I’m certainly guilty of only posting my most disastrous dates, wrought with angst and, ideally, hilarity.

But there are, occasionally, success stories. There was the awesome guy I made out with a few years back. Then he invited me over for dinner. Sadly that ended with Bin Laden being discovered in a bunker. CNN is definitely not an aphrodisiac! Well, almost one year ago I experienced my best OKCupid date ever. I was afraid to write about it because, well, I didn’t want to jink things, I guess. It’s been long enough. Without further ado, I give you “The Lifeguard.”

My sister booked an oceanfront condo for a family reunion, of sorts. Not the whole family, just a few select adults. I arrived at LAX before anyone else and picked up the rental car. OKCupid had just debuted their new feature, in an attempt to compete with Tinder, that lets you peruse matches “Nearby.” By the time I got to Santa Monica, 150 guys had checked out my profile. I scrolled through the faces and saw one that looked dazzling. I read his deets, which included that he was an LA County lifeguard.

“Hi! I’m staying at the beach this week,” I wrote. “Which lifeguard stand are you working? Maybe I could go out in front and flounder around.” After a few adorable emails back and forth, including one that wondered if he was, indeed, worth floundering for, we made plans to meet for a beer. He had somewhat apologizing for not being “much of a fashion statement,” in his sandals and shorts but…um…LIFEGUARD! And, uh, 6’4″?!? No need to add super good-looking. Or being the team doctor for the LA Derby Dolls! Soon I was sitting across from him on a barstool, sipping a Stella on the Santa Monica Pier.

He was smart and funny, easy to talk to and, did I say, handsome as hell? And TALL? We had a couple beers and he walked me back to my condo. A gentlemanly hug and a quick kiss goodnight left me most definitely wanting more. He followed up our first date an hour later with an email: “Mind was adrift as I thought of this feathery 5’10” woman that I just met. So much so that I did not notice the bike path taking a turn to the left…according to the two people that watched me do a face plant into the sand… That was the most fabulous, delicious way to end a day of work at the beach that I can remember in a long, long time. Thank you.”

I was in LA for seven days and saw him four times. I rode my bike down to Marina Del Rey and met him for lunch. On my last night we met for a drink. But one evening mid-week he suggested we walk through the Venice canals. I’d never seen them and thought that sounded…romantic. He picked me up in his red convertible 450SL (uh, yeah, like my favorite car EVER) and then we strolled the narrow sidewalks, over tiny bridges, holding hands. When we got back to his apartment, he closed the door and said, “Take off your clothes. ” Um, excuse me? He was unfolding his massage table. “You went for a 40 mile bike ride today. Wouldn’t you like a massage?” I left my panties on…

So. Yeah. Best seduction I’ve experienced in decades.

After my week in Santa Monica I headed up to Marin and then on to Gerlach for my summer job with Burning Man. The Lifeguard and I were texting and emailing and playing Words with Friends. Then one day…nothing. I sadly figured he’d met someone. “Maybe he got hit by lightning,” my mom said. What? No one ever gets hit by lightning in LA. My sister said the same thing. Then my friend said it too. “There was a big storm in LA.” I passed it off as an impossibility. Besides, he’d been in Maine, visiting his sister. Then, when a friend asked if I’d heard from him and I hung my head, she told me to tag a picture of a sunset or something to let him know I was thinking about him. “I hate it when people do that,” I said, but thought, hmmm, Facebook… We’d become “friends.” I went to his Facebook page and saw stuff like “Trying to get through to your hospital room” and “Saying a prayer for you!”

I texted him: “I saw on your Facebook page that you’re in the hospital. Are you okay?” In minutes I received a response: “This is his sister. He’s getting stronger every day. I’ll pass along your message.” I’d thought he was still in Maine so it didn’t surprise me that his sister responded for him. But I was worried.

A few days later he texted me. He WAS hit by lightning! A freak storm had descended upon Venice Beach and he was one of 13 people affected by the lightning strike. A 20-year-old guy had died. And, actually, so had The Lifeguard. He was out for a full 12 minutes! But it apparently wasn’t his time to go because a cardiac specialist had been on the beach, right where lifeguards had dragged his body, and that doctor didn’t give up on him. He was still in the hospital and had some recovering to do, but he was alive!

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We kept in touch through the summer. I even sent him a shot of myself getting “zapped” by a big piece of art! Leave it to me to meet a really great guy and he gets hit by lightning! Stay tuned for Part Deux.