Today I found myself in a strange, yet wonderful place. My dad is now in a one-bedroom apartment close to my house, after finishing up his rehab at the skilled nursing center.
My family, Jimmy and I all decided this was the best solution for now since my dad becomes so agitated in facilities surrounded by other residents and often there just isn't enough staff to ensure that he won't fall nearly every dadgum day.
So, last week I took a couple days off and had his furniture moved from a storage room at his former assisted living center to the new digs. Jimmy and three to four other caregivers will be caring for my dad around the clock in shifts. Today, Jimmy was there with Sherwin, a young CNA graduate, also from the Phillipines, who is Jimmy's apprentice of sorts. Sherwin has also worked with my dad at the skilled nursing center as well as at Sunrise, but this will be his first time working with a patient in a private home.
Today the kids and I stopped by to drop off some prescriptions and groceries and check in with Dad. Nate was still in his Tae Kwon Do uniform after his Saturday morning class and he proudly showed Sherwin some of his "moves." Turns out Sherwin knows a little karate, and within minutes, the two of them were playfully wrestling around, with Nate laughing so hard his face turned bright red. Guys just don't need ice breakers, I guess.
Meanwhile Liv chatted with my dad a bit, who was looking rather spiffy in one of Mark's old Nautica sweaters. I peeled a tangerine for him and he nibbled it while he calmly watched the kids play. Jimmy had some soup cooking on the stove and it smelled delicious; he told me it was mostly cabbage, with some carrot, onion and a bit of pork for seasoning. Maybe it was the pork, but it smelled pretty much like anything else my grandmother would've boiled on the stove.
I made a sandwich for the kids and Dad and while they ate Jimmy served up a bowl of the soup and put it alongside Dad's sandwich. He then slowly and deliberately ate every bite.
I watched this scene with a mixture of awe and amusement. Here was my dad, who in years past would never even touch Chinese food, now eating a Filipino-inspired dish with his peanut-butter and jelly sandwich in a little kitchen in Charlotte. Meanwhile, my kids were sprawled on the floor watching "I Robot" with Will Smith, with their new long-lost friend Sherwin, 20 years their senior and from an island 2,000 miles away.
Sometimes it just blows me away, the places life takes us. I mean, it really blows my freakin' mind. I'm feeling hopeful about this change, but as always, I have my fingers crossed. Always.