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Ladybugs’ Picnic

February 28, 2014

A recent conversation with Atlanta writer Jason Mallory prompted me to reminisce about some of my favorite Sesame Street vignettes. I look with particular fondness upon “Ladybugs’ Picnic,” the animated celebration of the Number 12, because my father often shouted it throughout the house.

“OHHH, it’s the Ladybug Picnic!!!” he screamed, sort of getting the lyrics right.

For your reference, here is the video:

The other day I called Daddy to ask whether he remembered the song that once served as one of our family’s educational staples.

“Daddy, do you remember that song ‘Ladybugs’ Picnic’ you used to go around the house singing all the time?”

“What song?” he asked, requesting additional clarification.

“You know, ‘OHHH, it’s the Ladybug Picnic!!!'” I yelled, emulating his former enthusiasm.

“Yeah I know it. It’s the song you were just sangin’!”

“Right,” I emotionally retreated.

On Sunday Daddy, Mother, and her two brothers visited; while Mother and my uncles wandered around Ryan’s and my new house, Daddy sat on the sofa staring into space. His mental romp through Alzheimer’s La La Land continued at lunch at Grant Park restaurant Six Feet Under.

When the waitress took Mother’s order, Daddy quickly said, “I’ll have that, too.” He always requests the same dish as Mother since menus present overwhelming choices, and Alzheimer’s has annihilated his ability to make decisions, even something as simple as deciding what to eat.

While the rest of us caught up on family gossip, Daddy picked up and studied each condiment bottle over and over – perhaps a manifestation of anxiety over not being able to keep up with the conversation. Usually my attempts to include Daddy result in increased alienation, so I expect nothing more from him than quiet companionship.

Daddy at Oakland CemeteryDaddy’s and my comfort with total silence proved useful when we herded across the street like a bunch of hillbillies into Oakland Cemetery, an historic final resting place as well as a serene, multi-acre green space. Because I am wearing a leg brace and walking with crutches, I lay in the grass beside Daddy while the rest of my family traipsed through the cemetery’s many sections.

“There’s a lotta dead people in here,” Daddy commented.

“Yep,” I agreed.

At one point Daddy shuffled through a row of graves and froze, considering names and dates. The old Daddy would have had a wad of tobacco tucked into his cheeks.

An Oakland Cemetery volunteer greeted Daddy, and I rolled over in an attempt to eavesdrop and gauge what kind of believable show my father still manages to put on.

“There’s a lotta dead people in here,” I overheard him say.

After a brief exchange Daddy turned away from the man and gazed into nowhere.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Timber permalink
    March 9, 2014 11:17 am

    I totally forgot about the ladybugs’ picnic! I think when people meet Daddy now, they just assume he’s a quiet, reserved man. We’re the only ones frustrated by his drastic personality change because most people don’t recognize it. He would have talked the volunteer’s ear off before!

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