The Twilight Years Are Here

The Twilight Years Are Here

Thursday, May 12, 2011 Interview With Naomi Judd

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April 30, 2011

This past week has been emotionally charged beyond belief. On April 24th (Easter Sunday) we marked the 1year anniversary of Mom’s death. Now, 6 days later it is her birthday and the anniversary of her memorial service.
Dad asks daily, “What day is this?” or “What is today?” As he is asking, he is checking the day and date on his watch (as if to confirm that we are in agreement). On good days, he will only ask a few times. On bad days he may ask dozens of times.


I got up this morning to find Dad sitting silently in his chair. As soon as he saw me he said listlessly, “What day is this?” I replied around a sudden lump in my throat, “April 30th”. He took off his watch and looked at it, turning it this way and that, reading the date from every possible angle.
“There use to be something important that happened in April. I think it was on the 30th. It isn’t one of the kids birthdays because none of them were born in April.” He looked at me totally bewildered, “Why can’t I remember? I know it was something important.”
I swallowed hard and cleared my throat, choking out, “Dad, today was Mom’s birthday.”
“My mom’s birthday? No, I don’t think so. You mean your mom’s?”
I shook my head, “No. I mean your wife’s. Today is her birthday.”
The sadness oozed from his very being as he slumped further down in his recliner. A shaky hand wiped over his face. “I knew it was something important. How could I forget that?” He turned his pain-clouded eyes to mine, “I miss Del as much right this second as I did the day she died. How could I forget her birthday?”
I leaned down and hugged him, “It’s not your fault, Dad. Your illness just makes you forget things sometimes.”
He hugged me back, patting my hair and said, “I don’t want to forget her. Del was my whole life and I don’t know what to do without her but I know I don’t want to forget her.”
I wanted desperately to assure him that he wouldn’t. But in that moment, we both knew there is every possibility that is exactly what will happen. With tears filling my eyes, I walked into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee.

As the coffee maker began to drip, I asked Dad if he was ready for some breakfast. He said he thought he’d rather wait for a while. A couple of minutes later he came around the corner and asked, “Hey, Sweetheart, what day is this?”
“April 30th,” I answered quietly with my back to him.
“That’s right. I knew that.” He started back toward the living room, asking, “What’s next?”
“Nothing, Dad. We don’t have anything at all to do today. It’s Saturday.”
“Have you gotten the newspaper yet?” he asked as he sat back down in his chair.
“Not yet. Would you like me to go get it?”
“No, I’ll get it. It will give me something to do besides sitting around being homesick for my wife.”
I told him I thought it was a great idea. That I was sure a little fresh air would be good for him and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day outside.

He struggled from the chair and headed for the front door. “Dad, don’t forget your walker.” I called out to him as I poured myself a cup of coffee.
He turned around and snapped out, “I know that! I do NOT need you to remind me all the time! I am perfectly capable of remembering to use the damn thing. I am perfectly capable of remembering A G.D. LOT of things!”
He grabbed his walker, snatched it off the ground, turned back toward the door and thumped the wheels on the floor. Once again he started for the front door but just before he reached it, he turned and went down the hallway toward his bedroom.
After a few minutes he came back and asked if I had gotten the newspaper yet. I told him I hadn’t and suggested he might like to get it since it was such a lovely day. He immediately agreed as he started for the door. He reached to unlock the front door, looked over his shoulder at me and asked, “Sweetheart, what day is this?”


On the weekends I strip Dad’s bed and do his linens and laundry. Sweep and mop his bedroom and bathroom, etc. Dad is very proud that he makes his bed every day. Since this is a function that he has appeared to maintain quite well, I only ever do it when he is ill or on laundry day. I had noticed that it was even neater than usual this past week.
I went to strip his bed and the top quilt was turned back (highly unusual). I picked up the pillows on his side of the bed and stood there staring in disbelief. The bed had OBVIOUSLY not been turned down since I had made it last weekend. I was floored.

I went into the living room and sat down beside Dad. “Hey, Dad, can I ask you a question?”
“Of course.”
“Is there a reason you haven’t slept under your sheets this week?
He smiled a most serene and charming smile, “Sure. I figured if I didn’t mess it up nobody would have to make it up and nobody would have to do laundry. I was trying to help you. Did I do something wrong?”


I was cleaning the upstairs bathrooms, I had just finished the toilet, sink and tub in the boys room and gone to do Dad’s before finishing picking up both bathrooms. On my knees cleaning the toilet, I heard Dad say from behind me, “Oh, shit.”
I apologized and said he could get in here I could easily come back and finish later. He insisted he would just go use the other bathroom.
Almost 30 minutes later, I finished and took the wastebasket with me to empty. Dad was sitting in his recliner calmly flipping through a magazine. As I approached him, he glanced up. “I’ve just been sitting here looking at this magazine I found in the front bathroom. It’s rather interesting.” I leaned down to see what he was reading when he said matter-of-factly, “I think some of these girls might be sluts.”

As he said it, he angled the cover so I could clearly see it. Dad noticed me looking and told me, “It’s called Hooters. They seem to like to show them off too. I wouldn’t usually look at something like this but at least it helps pass the time.”
I smiled and nodded as I went to the kitchen. Dad continued to flip through the pages. When he got to the end of it, he turned it back to the front cover and casually began going through it again. Periodically, he would make little comments under his breath. I was delighted to see something capture his attention for so long.

He mentioned it a couple of times, “I found this magazine in the front bathroom. It’s called Hooters. I’m not sure what to do with it.”
I decided I would put it up somewhere when he left the room (out of sight, out of mind) but when he finally did, the magazine was nowhere to be found. And I’m certainly not going to ask him about it.

One thing is definite, there is seldom a dull moment with Dad around! (see picture toward bottom of the page)