Never Goodbye

Navigating the Journey through Dementia

The unleashing began with the leaf blower. While working at the computer, I heard the muffled buzz. Dad was blowing away all the leaves, and cleaning up the steps and porch. Then an engine started up, and he drove off in his truck without finishing, abandoning a mound of leaves stacked by the front door entrance. Leaf blowing can be tiring, hard work for a guy, eighty-eight years old. How odd though–what was the container of anti-freeze doing on the front steps?

I figured Dad was taking trash to the landfill, an eyesore he’d created on his property for trash dumping. But if so, why was the trash still in the house? As forgetful as he was,  odds were he had forgotten the trash and would soon return.

The next thing I knew, Dad came huffing and puffing through the door. There had been no sound of an engine approaching. Dumping the mail on the table, he said, “I crashed the truck into a tree.” My smug feeling of having “everything under control” instantly dissipated. In shock, I looked blankly at my dad. There were no cuts or scratches. “Are you OK?” I asked. He assured me he didn’t get hurt at all and neither did the neighbor’s dogs that rode in the front seat with him. The front of the truck, however, was all bashed in and stuck in a tree. Surprisingly, it still ran when you turned the key in the ignition.

When asked what happened, he said, “Seems one of the dogs was lying on my foot. I couldn’t get my foot off the accelerator. Boy! If you don’t think that was a thrill, flying 80 miles per hour down the hill. I dodged the trees for as long as I could. Finally,  one stopped the truck.”

Oddly enough, this misadventure put a sparkle in my dad’s eyes. He had not experienced such excitement in quite awhile. Nothing breathes life into you like besting a dance with danger. Wrestling in death’s clutches he came out unscathed. We took a walk into the woods the next day to admire the smashed truck and how it was lodged into the tree.