Thursday, February 17, 2011
We are so thankful that Carlos Robledo could take time out of his busy work schedule to come visit Dad last Sunday! While Dad didn't go to school with Carlos, he definitely went to school with about 10 other Robledos... all the cousins and brothers. It wasn't until the 80s that Dad and Carlos became friends. One day at UPS there was a new guy (Carlos) and while he was being introduced to everyone, Dad knew instantly that Carlos must be related to all those Robledos from Pasadena Jr. High and High School. He was right, and a friendship blossomed.
Carlos shared with us the many fishing trips that they took together and the time they spent gardening and doing yard-work over the years... it sounds like a lot of the time Dad was showing Carlos how to fish and sharing his tricks of the trade in the garden. I had Carlos bring Bonsai clippers so we could doctor up Dad's 30 year old bonsai plant that we brought to Whittier. That plant is still going strong.
We also looked at fishing trip pictures that Carlos brought along. Dad really enjoyed looking through those and slowly remembered some of the memories. At first Dad got Carlos confused for their other friend, Mike, but after reminding him who he was, Dad remembered the Robledos. It really helped that Carlos started naming off all the people that Dad went to school with and since that's really the time Dad lives in, he loved hearing those names.
Carlos also told a story of how my Dad would bend over and fart in my face when I was about 3 years old. I would crinkle my nose and Dad would say, "Who did that?" And I would apparently say, "Daddy do that." Okay, very cute story, but also VERY gross. Megan said she felt bad for me. Haha. But it does explain why Dad would always say in a child-like voice, "Daddy do that". I never knew what that meant until now.
Anyway, thank you Carlos for sharing your stories and for visiting Dad. We always love hearing stories about my Dad. Obviously we have a much different memory of what my Dad was like as a person, but I'm starting to feel like we never knew the 'real' Dave.
A couple of nights ago, I was talking about my Dad to some family friends on my Mom's side. They told me a few more stories... about how my Dad was always the 'funny guy', very social, party-guy, generous and friendly, and liked to tease. While some of these characteristics describe Dad perfectly, others don't sound like the Dad I knew. But now that his memory is gone, I really find that his true personal traits are coming out. He is so sweet and friendly to everyone at Whittier Place, he talks to everyone, and is always generous (asking if we're hungry or offering us things). These qualities are missing from my childhood memories, but it's nice to know they were always there even if they were buried under anger and alcohol.
The last story I am going to share is about Megan and Dad. Apparently Megan would get really whiny and upset at the beach because she hated being cold and having the sand all over her when she was little. This would happen repeatedly during a day at the beach, but Dad wouldn't hesitate to run her over to the hotel jacuzzi and bounce her around in there until she was happy. Over and over again.
We cling to these happy stories from the past and of who my Dad really was. So if you have any, we'd love to hear more of them.
I would have to say that Dad is having a nice February so far! The great weather in Southern California is allowing him to still spend time out in the garden, and it also allowed us to take Dad to the beach.
About two weeks ago, Megan and I decided that we would take Dad to the beach since he is always talking about it. We kept putting it off because with the driving time of picking Dad up from Whittier, taking him to the beach, and taking him back to Whittier, we knew it would almost be a full-day excursion. Splitting the driving duties helped, and I arrived at Whittier with the good news that Dad was going to get to see the Ocean! He was so happy and some of the other residents told me they wanted to go as well. One lady actually started to follow us, but I told her that unfortunately there was no room in my car for another person... that little white lie seemed to work.
Even though I told him numerous times where we were going, Dad was surprised when we pulled up to Megan's house. He got to pet all her cats and her dog, Izzy, and then we all sat and had a few slices of leftover pizza before heading over the Redondo Beach Pier. I should mention too that Dad got a piece of apple stuck in his teeth, and so Megan attacked it with vigor, finally grabbing a pair of tweezers to pull out the long piece of apple. I wish I had a picture of that.
Down at the beach we walked around, looked at the seafood market, checked out the fishermen on the end of the pier, and Dad made sure to check out EVERY female who walked by. Some things never change.
Megan and I had decided that we would treat Dad to a beer. I know I've talked a lot about his alcoholism, but honestly at this point one beer isn't going to hurt him and we just want him to enjoy life. So, like I said, this was a treat for him. We sat in an empty Bar overlooking the fishing boats while Dad drank his beer (which turned out be in a very big mug). He got a little silly and kept bobbing his head to the club-type music that was playing in the background... it was cracking me up. I kept trying to get a video of him grooving to the music, but it didn't come out. I did get a video of him with his beer though... (below)
After the beach, Megan took him back to Whittier and when he walked in the door he announced in a cheery voice, "I'm Home!" I think there is a level of comfort associated with Whittier Place.
On a side note... the VA did pay a portion of Dad's Ambulance Bill, so it looks like we're all done with that! It was the last one associated with that hospital trip back in April. Woo Hoo!