I've been reading some of Dad's journals. His eccentric personality definitely shows in his writing. Mom always complained of his procrastination, but with his journals, he was consistent. Often, his handwriting looks like the writing of different people, but he had neat printing. If the journal had a small space for the day's entry, he filled it with microscopic illegible handwriting. Cramming every bit of information in the columns and into every possible space for that day.
I'm glad he occasionally used spiral 70 page notebooks, and as always, used every single line and space to write. He included the chores he accomplished, the goals he had, what was happening within our family, who visited, who needed prayers.
It touches me how sweet and loving he is with his worry and concern for his children and grand children, our country. His family life, his children and grand children are always the main topics of his conversation. He had several friends, but he was really a loner. He always had an excuse as to why he could not go somewhere or meet some one for lunch. His chores around the house were always his duty before fun....except with us.
Course, he may set out in the morning for a part he felt he needed and go to nine different stores to find it and felt none of the stores had the quality, so he came home with nothing and the job lay unfinished. Often, one of my brothers would bring him a part, which was always the best quality, in Dad's eyes and it would get fixed or re-started until the next obstacle. Anything connected with any of his children, was excellent and full of promise.
He was a frugal man in the sense he loved the challenge of utilizing unusual things for unconventional reasons. He saved and hoarded, because "You just never know when this exact same thing may come in handy for a project..." Dad had piles of stuff and it drove Mom and my brothers crazy... I tried several times to organize a family gathering to clean out his stuff, which Dad would agree to, only to have him call me and cancel the day we were to come. He could not part with anything, unless we asked him to let us have it...
I shopped with Dad several times before he was admitted to the nursing home. It was always a hunt for shoes, sun hats and clothes. He rarely found anything he considered to be "good enough" and worthy of spending the money. We would always come home empty handed and he would continue to wear shoes too big for him and make do with the clothes he had.
He and Mom loved to watch the Angel baseball games on TV. That was one activity they could enjoy together. Dad had a conscious list of various movie stars he did not like for one reason or another, and if that particular film star was in the movie, it had to be bad...
I remember one weekend when I came over to stay, and Mom and I were excited about watching some movie. Dad was excited about watching it with us...until he saw who was in the movie. He made a disapproving noise and left the room. Now if John Wayne was in the film, he would have surely stayed.
Many times one of us came to visit and Dad would sit and visit for a bit, only to have him go off to go get something from the store for an important job he was working on, or he would disappear upstairs to get dressed and it would take him the remainder of the visit to dress.. Some times, he would just excuse himself and he would hole up in the garage or busy himself in the back yard with one of his piles of "stuff".
To say he got distracted easily is an understatement. I would watch him in the backyard, when I stayed with him while Mom was away on a trip. He would walk with such purpose, like he was on a mission, then suddenly stop in the middle of the yard, put his hand to his chin and I could tell he had forgotten what he was going to do. He would wander and flit like a butterfly, from tree, to pile, to the garage, to the hose, to front, to the vegetable garden and get little done.
It makes me sad, in a way, to read his journals...yet so happy he has blossomed, despite this horrific disease which steals something from him each and every day...leaving more of a personality, more love, more gratitude. He was so burdened with life in so many ways. I am not sure if it is just the way he was or if it was the devastation from World War II. Physically, he was not injured, but emotionally, being a Marine fighting in the Battle of Tarawa, how could he ever be the same?
Maybe it is a huge Blessing he can't remember some of what he went through...his memory comes and goes. His reality is mostly confused and full of fantasy, but at least he still knows who we are...
When I stayed with Dad, he told me of so many of his regrets. He always wanted to visit the War Memorial in Washington, D.C. My husband, Mom and I were discussing a trip for the four of us the month he went into the hospital... He wanted to move out of LA county and move up to northern California and work the land. He wanted to look up some of his old war buddies...
There is a lesson here for all of us. Not to allow time to pass through our fingers. To be in tune with what makes us happy and feel alive. To move toward our dreams and make them materialize. To realize, now will soon be tomorrow, and the past is a stepping stone to the present where our intention and attention become our future.