While waiting for the door to be unlocked, my nerves got the best of me.

While waiting for the door to be unlocked, my nerves got the best of me. Visiting Dad brings on a mixture of emotions that seem so complicated, it's just easier to just go with the flow rather than trying to sort them out.

The last couple of visits have been so disheartening, as he seems to be sleeping so much of the time now. I usually find him sitting at the dining room table, and even though he'll open his eyes, I can tell his mind is still asleep.

At first I thought he was being over-medicated and after checking with the staff, that's not the case. It's just hard to accept as I'm used to him never taking naps. Even though the dementia would stop him from remembering what he was doing, he was always busy doing something.

I was excited to find him wide awake and even smiled when I sat down next to him. It was right after lunch, and it seemed most of the residents were milling about before their afternoon nap. With Dad being so incoherent lately, I've spent quality time at the table, chatting with other residents who are eager for a listening ear.
Dad's roommate, who generally doesn't say much, stopped by and simply said, "cookie."

I wasn't sure if he wanted a cookie or had just had one, so I asked him if they had cookies for lunch. He looked upset and said, "just one left." While trying to figure out what he was trying to tell me, I got a better look at Dad and noticed he had the remnants of what appeared to be chocolate chip cookies all over his mouth.

Dad was listening to the exchange when I asked the roommate if perhaps someone had eaten more than their fair share. "He did," he replied pointing a finger at Dad while stomping back to his room.
Dad looked up at me, with a chocolately smile and said, "I love cookies."

Just three words, but it was the most I've heard him say in awhile. I decided to take advantage of his alertness and brought out his airplane book he likes to look at. We talked about the bomber planes he flew in the war, although he was convinced I was the pilot and he was the civilian.

My purse was sitting on the table, and it concerned him that it didn't belong there, so I moved it to the floor. Eventually he spotted it on the floor and wanted me to put it back on the table. He picked it up and commented on how heavy it was and wanted to know if I had a gun in it.

It was a good day.
When I was getting ready to leave, I pushed my luck and asked him if he knew who I was. He looked at me and then back to the table, where the evidence of cookie crumbles lay on the tablecloth. While brushing them off onto the floor he smiled again and said, "aren't you the cookie lady?"

It was a very good day.

Sandy Turner lives in the Kansas City area and writes this column for GateHouse Media.