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Your mother was always a brilliant investor.

January 15, 2014

Christmas has become a barometer by which I measure my father’s Alzheimer’s progression. His engagement with guests at the dinner table, energy during our annual gift exchange, and overall cognizance of the holiday erode each year. For so long he led the conversation from his spot at the head of the table. He still sits in the captain’s seat but can’t remember how to steer. He knows he should be there; it’s ingrained in his brain. The rest of us quietly regard the ghost of our leader, eating and talking as though he weren’t there. Because he isn’t there. This year Daddy scarfed his food, physically present, but mentally far away in a world devoid of the rattling of iced sweet tea, the clanking of flatware, the rapid passing of the butter: all to Daddy a confusing aural jumble. Upon finishing his plate he asked my mother, “May I be excused?”

Daddy retreated to the familiarity and safety of his bedroom. I only could coax him out when I announced we were opening presents. During his turn, he pulled a bottle of wine out of the same bag three times, repeating the label. Daddy’s sense of interest is a little pile of sawdust that Alzheimer’s is hovering over, and with one more breath will blow away.

The most recent holiday was particularly hard on my mother because Timber couldn’t make it home to celebrate. Ryan and I spent Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with his folks: one of the bittersweet compromises that accompanies marriage. Daddy’s worsening condition paired with Timber’s absence hit Mother with what she called a “double whammy.”

Last Christmas morning everyone woke up together and explored our stockings. Both Daddy and Ryan discovered mini screwdrivers in the big toe of their stockings, which Mother balanced with lip gloss for the girls. When Timber reached the bottom of her stocking, she turned it over, eventually shaking it with dismay, then anger.

“What?” she gasped. “Where’s my mini screwdriver?!”

“The men got screwdrivers, honey,” Mother tiptoed. “And we got lip gloss!”

“BUT! By giving Daddy and Ryan mini screwdrivers, that means you and Bobbin automatically get mini screwdrivers, too. You are singling me out because I’m not married! How could you?!”

Daddy had remained mute the entire morning but ingeniously commented, “Sounds to me like you need to find yo’self a man!”

Daddy’s witticisms are becoming less and less frequent, although lately he sarcastically has harped on Mother’s “financial savvy” and obsessively checked one of his main savings account balances online.

“Look at this!” he exclaimed. “Look at all this money! Your mother was always a brilliant investor.”

Before Alzheimer’s hijacked his brain, Daddy never discussed money; he revealed his salary to me once when my college scholarship applications required I divulge it. I asked Daddy how much money he makes when I was a little girl, and he called my question tacky and rude.

On Christmas Eve night Daddy called his investment firm’s customer service line claiming he had been locked out of his online account, although he simply was looking at the wrong log in credentials in his password reminder book. While we washed the dishes, Mother and I eavesdropped on his conversation with an Edward D. Jones representative.

“I miss him,” Mother said.

I started drying the silverware and sighed, “Yeah. I miss him, too.”

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2014 4:37 pm

    My mother used to put a quarter in the stockings of all four of her children, a tradition we all fondly remember.

    • January 15, 2014 4:40 pm

      That’s a nice memory! I’m clinging to those sorts of things these days. Happy New Year!

  2. January 15, 2014 10:10 pm

    I love the humor in your writing, Bobbin. Thanks for sharing. I’ve really enjoyed following your blog. I hope you had a great holiday.
    -Angela 🙂

    • January 16, 2014 7:32 am

      I REALLY appreciate your pointing out the humor in this post. I truly had a wonderful holiday and hope the same for you. Congratulations on getting married and continuing to look amazing, etc.

  3. February 7, 2014 1:11 pm

    Just read your piece on the Billfold, and realized you are the same Bobbin W. who I am Yelp friends with! (This is Tamara S.) You’re a wonderful writer, and these pieces are moving and fascinating.

    • February 7, 2014 3:19 pm

      Hi, Tamara! It’s great to hear from you in another capacity. Thank you for reading my Billfold piece and making your way over to Hot Dog Beehonkus. I appreciate your kind feedback. TGIF!! ! !

  4. Timber permalink
    February 10, 2014 8:22 am

    I still don’t have a mini-screwdriver! Maybe next year…

  5. The Reverend Al Brown aka Optimus Prime permalink
    February 14, 2014 4:01 pm

    This blog is the mini-screwdriver in my weekly stocking. The days between entries are lip gloss.

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