Willie has been taking care of my dad on his days off. As much as I love my father, he can be very challenging to care for. He has trouble getting to the bathroom on time, and refuses to wear a depends. He will ask what we are going to have for lunch, and then say he's not hungry once you get lunch ready. He refuses to let his bath aid give him his bath at least once a week. His dementia leaves him unable to remember something that you just told him ten minutes ago. You have the same conversation with him over and over.
Willie has been very patient and very kind to him through it all. They have been talking a lot and learning more about each other. They have been watching golf together. According to Willie, Dad really seems to like to watch golf. He has told Willie stories about how he used to caddy when he was in high school. Something I never knew. Willie says he doesn't seem to like baseball though. He falls asleep when that is on, well, who doesn't.
Willie and Dad haven't always been close. Not that there have been any hard feelings between them, just that they haven't had a lot in common. Willie loves to garden, Dad loves to watch TV and read the paper. Willie loves sports, Dad has never been one to watch sports, (honestly though, I'm not sure that was his choice, Mom hated sports.) They just are different people.
The day that Willie and I got married Dad was as proud as I have ever seen him. Not knowing much about the proper ways of weddings, I had Dad and Willie dressed in black tuxes with tails and ascots. This was really much too formal for the rest of the wedding. I thought they both looked perfect though.
As my father put out his arm to escort me down the aisle his smile was as wide as I'd ever seen it. He promised not to let me trip and fall. We turned and headed toward Willie.
Willie had not seen my dress. He had no idea what it was going to look like. He never even saw the pattern that was being used to make my dress. I was kind of superstitious about all things wedding. I didn't want to even come close to torking off the wedding god's. Willie did not see me the day of the wedding until those doors opened for Dad and I to walk down the aisle. (hey, we've been married thirty years come this next April, you going to argue with that?)
Dad walked taller and straighter than I had ever seen him walk before. His limp, due to his prosthetic right leg, was barely noticeable. We walked at his pace, which was slow, but strong. He smiled all the way to the alter. Asked who gives this woman to marry this man, he proudly and firmly said "I do."
He helped me up on to the alter with Willie, let go and sat down next to my mother.
Willie was smiling ear to ear as my father and I walked toward him. He saw, for the first time, the lavender satin dress with white lace over lay that I was wearing. I smiled back at him. I felt like I was walking through a fog to my very own prince charming. It was the happiest day of my life. I couldn't stop smiling.
Willie and my dad have spent more time together than they ever have before. They are learning much about each other. Finding more they have in common. More things to talk about. Dad's dementia makes it harder, but they are getting there none the less. We will be finding out what other sports Dad likes or doesn't like. Golf, yes, baseball, not so much. NASCAR, he seems OK with, football, we will see. Dad and Willie will be watching more and more together. Willie has the NFL package from DirectTV. We watch a lot of football. GO RAMS!!! (I know! Willie is a Steelers fan, but I'm a Rams fan, deal with it!) I wonder if Dad will pick a favorite team?