Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Siesta Time at the Candy-Spa


When my family (parents, sister, niece) visited after Christmas, we packed an enormous amount of stuff into 5 days. Scott went above and beyond the call of the son-in-law's duty. He drove us all to Sedona on New Year's Day to see some of the most beautiful scenery on the entire planet.

It was truly amazing to get to experience this with my mom and dad. (Even though it was freezing and we had to buy my dad a sweatshirt to put under his jacket, just to be able to exit the car. I was too stupid to remember that we would be going NORTH for 2 hours.) We traveled those treacherous drop-off roads through the mountains that are so scary and gorgeous that you are torn between oohing and aahing and shitting your pants and crying for your momma. Luckily, mine was in the car.

This photo is from one afternoon when my sister and niece took my car to go explore the seedy side of Phoenix (the malls), and I set my parents up with their own little private vacation spot by the pool, in lounge chairs, and equipped my mother, whose eyes are still recovering from cataract surgery, with a big floppy hat. She looked like an aloof movie star, poo-pooing the photographers on the other side of the pool. They relished bathing in the sun instead of suffering back home in the 19 degree weather.

I've never, ever had a family member visit me at my house and spend the night. For some of the family I was always close enough for them to drive home at the end of the day. (The rest of the family never visited.) This time I got to pamper them. I fixed up their bedrooms and laid out their towels and turned down their beds and bought four kinds of bubble bath.

Scott cooked like crazy. When they arrived, late in the evening on the 30th, he had two kinds of homemade soup waiting for them on the stove: ham and bean, and smoked turkey and barley. He made frittatas for breakfast one day and "Dutch babies" (not actual infants from Holland) the next. Salmon cooked on the grill for dinner, surrounded by lemon-halves and about a thousand kinds of veggies. Once we finally finished that main course, he carried out six separate little chocolate cakes he had baked for us and sprinkled them with powdered sugar. My mother cannot get over her wonderment at how *I* got a guy like this one. Neither can I.

We took my parents to see their old friend Bob, 91, who served with my dad in World War II. Bob, who has been too frail to travel to the annual army reunions in Cincinnati for the last few years, lives in an assisted living residency 45 minutes from here. He was thrilled with the visit and marveled that he had never had this big a crowd in his apartment before. He has an astounding singing voice. It still booms from that fragile wisp of a body, and he sung a couple of hymns for us. I recorded it all on video.

Very few things in my life will ever rank up there with those 5 days. I know it will never happen again. We pushed our luck with having my dad endure a 4 hour flight. Prayers were mercifully answered and he did OK both ways, with the only snag happening in airport security, both ways, because of his expired driver's license. He got examined more than a Playboy in a junior high boys' locker room. Yeah. Check that guy out. He's got Al-Quaida written all over him. Quick, get him out of that wheelchair so we can wrestle him to the ground.

He asked constantly "Where are we?" and my sister wrote on a little notebook "We are in Phoenix, Arizona. We are here to visit Scott and Candy." He held it on his lap. I sat next to him in the van we rented, and on the way to Sedona he looked down at it dozens of times. Still unsatisfied, every few minutes he'd ask "Where are we?" I'd say "We're in Arizona, Dad."

His answer, every time: "What the hell are we doing here?" It became our catch-phrase for the trip, which amused him.

As we expected, when he got home to Indiana he did not remember coming to Arizona. He did not remember seeing Sedona, even an hour after we'd left there. This broke my heart into little splinters which flew around my chest like dust. But I am so grateful he got to come here at all. And I will never forget.

36 Comments:

  • At 3:40 AM, Anonymous kirby said…

    how sweet.... I just LOVE everything about this post.

     
  • At 4:08 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, Kirby.

    Nice to see you in the wee hours. I've been to bed 3 times and cannot coax my brain to slow down. Even with drugs.

    Apparently I do not have the RIGHT drugs.

    Where are my college students when I need 'em?

     
  • At 5:52 AM, Anonymous Ann said…

    I just read Dancing With Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's. First, let me say, it's not depressing and second, it's on sale at Amazon for $6.99. (Or you can probably get it at the library, as I did.) The author became a caretaker in a nursing home in order to write the book and her insights are excellent. I took care of both of my parents (cancer, Parkinson's with dementia) at home and, while I'm glad I did it, it almost drove me nuts!

     
  • At 8:06 AM, Anonymous futuresis said…

    That is one beautiful post. How is it that I can chuckle and cry at the same time?

    I love the picture of your parents by the pool. :-)

     
  • At 8:54 AM, Blogger planbreaker said…

    The posts about your parents *always* make me cry. You need to write a book about them.

     
  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger Dana said…

    "What the hell are we doing here?"

    Beautiful.

    Going to get kleenex now.

     
  • At 1:16 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks for the book info, Ann...I'll definitely look into it.

    I admire you for getting through the giant challenge with your parents. There is just nothing like it.

     
  • At 1:17 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Futuresis, I was kind of like that writing it. Which is why I couldn't go to sleep, I think.

    Yeah, I took a million photos of them by the pool. This one kept them incognito.

     
  • At 1:18 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Planbreaker, I'm working on a book. It is very very very slow and not even a little easy. As YOU know.

     
  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Dana, he does know how to ask the big metaphysical questions, doesn't he?

     
  • At 2:47 PM, Blogger Dana said…

    I love his question. I think most people need to ask that very same thing.

    I loved the story, it was very fitting for another chapter of your memoir.

     
  • At 3:22 PM, Anonymous futuresis said…

    "What the hell are we doing here?"

    I often said those same words when I lived in Arizona. :-)

     
  • At 7:06 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    I'm asking it lots these days, Dana. Funny how it sort of pounds away at you when you hit middle age. I'm a walking cliche. :)

    Futuresis: yes. It cannot be helped.

     
  • At 11:11 PM, Blogger Gail said…

    Somewhere your Dad knows and remembers and the question, "What the hell are we doing here?" could not be more relevant.

     
  • At 11:18 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks for saying that, Gail. I SO wish I could go in and visit that place, just for 5 minutes, just to say hi and see how he's doing.

     
  • At 9:00 AM, Blogger LD said…

    heart breaking and beatiful all at once.

     
  • At 10:55 AM, Anonymous c... said…

    Candy, reading posts like these i remember the first time i saw this side of you ... you really are a most amazing woman.

     
  • At 11:11 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, LD. That means a lot. I never know what I'm doing when I start one of those posts.

     
  • At 11:13 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    c...
    That is quite a compliment coming from you. (Even though you NEVER saw this side of me. I'm a badass mofo and don't you fergit it.)

    ((Word.))

     
  • At 1:14 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    My blogs are becoming so depressing I have to medicate myself after writing them; yours are poignant--sad and joyous at the same time. There is nothing that twists the heart more than watching once proud, strong men fading gradually.

    What a wonderful thing you did to bring him down. But, I know that it is painful for you and fulfilling at the same time. I love to read the things you write; you seem to mix the serious and the humorous with just the right sensitivity to each sentiment.

     
  • At 1:53 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, Jerry. I try not to let the sappiness that invades my thinking come fully out in my posts, but sometimes it does flow forth.

    I have to offset it by running around the house dropping F-bombs in every direction.

    I don't find your posts depressing, by the way.

     
  • At 10:21 PM, Blogger Mel said…

    What everyone else has already said--love the post, I'm just chiming in.

     
  • At 1:01 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, Mel. I value your chime.

     
  • At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Belle said…

    I am chiming too. Thanks. Can't think what else to say. I'm speechless.

     
  • At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Jackie O. said…

    Candy, I always love reading about the love you have for your parents and the love they have for you. (There's a lot of love in that sentence!)

    May I have a little chocolate cake sprinkled with powdered sugar?

     
  • At 2:03 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Hey! "Belle" chimed! :)

    Jackie O., I will wrap up a little cake and have my cabana boy deliver it to you. He will need some sort of tip, of course.

     
  • At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That is the nicest post ever.

     
  • At 8:14 PM, Blogger Steve B said…

    My wife had to watch her grandma disappear down the Alzheimers hole. It was pretty bad towards the end as various other parts of her body started to shut down as well. Always hard.

    We visited her on one of her last days, in the hospital. The pnemonia was in in the final stages.

    We stood around her bed as the nurse woke her up. Her eyes were unfocused for a moment, she didn't really seem to be there. Then she saw me, caught her breath suddenly and reached out her hand towards me.

    I about lost it. I didn't realize until that moment that I had been all that important to her; but for her to recognize me, there at the end when little else seemed to get through, even "her" family, and for her to react that way, was...wow.

    Not sure what that has to do with your post, but I guess if nothing else, there's hope that even at then end, some stuff still gets through.

     
  • At 10:27 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thank you, Anonymous. I actually felt relief after writing it. Needed to get it down. Luckily, my niece took over 600 photos on the visit. There is NOTHING she doesn't document.

    Steve B, That has everything to do with my post. It's all about the disease and the mystery and horror of it. My dad isn't fully in the dark room yet. He still has maybe 30% of his personality left. (As though that can be quantified numerically, right? But you get the idea.) We can still make him laugh, he knows who we are, etc.

    Our biggest blessing is that he remains very very sweet. Many who have the disease get agitated and angry and mean. We're so lucky in that way.

    Thank you for describing that moment with your wife's grandma. I'm grateful. And I'm glad you HAD that moment.

     
  • At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Ana said…

    You know, I can't figure out what's best, that you had this precious time to love on your parents so completely or that you and Mr. Rant are so wrapped around one another's hearts that he willed all of that into being. You married a man who will slowly make up for every sadness you've ever felt simply because he loves you so. He's tipping your scales. You have found a love like your parents have. That is breathtaking.

     
  • At 3:29 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    God, what a great paragraph. Thanks for putting it as only you can.

    Yes, it's breathtaking to me, too. And so terrifying that I constantly have whiplash from looking over my shoulder to see the horror that must SURELY be chasing me.

    "Mr. Rant." Heh. He is a miracle. And finding him, a needle in an internet haystack, is very helpful when trying to maintain my faith.

     
  • At 3:29 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Oh, and thanks for getting me all weepy, Ana. I have to go throw some rocks at cars now.

     
  • At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Ana said…

    Hater.

     
  • At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Scott P said…

    Gee Ana, how much do I owe you? Heh.

    It goes both ways, too, of course. Candy saved me from myself.

     
  • At 11:37 AM, Blogger Citlali said…

    I gotta stop reading this blog at work. lol. Damn you, Candy. You really are amazing. You have profound sentiments and the skills to put them into equally meaningful words that exude the essence of your life experience. You know? In other words, I gotta go get another box of kleenex out of the supply closet. K? I'm so glad you got to see your parents. = ]

     
  • At 11:41 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thank you, Citlali! If it's any consolation, I was kind of kleenexed up after I wrote it.

     

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