I've thought about making a bucket list but I couldn't come up with anything I'd rather be doing than what I'm doing right now. Besides the items on my unrealistic bucket list - eating whatever I want without gaining weight or being motivated to exercise - I'm pretty much a happy camper if my light should burn out anytime soon.
I have no idea what may have been on Dad's bucket list and if he had any wishes in the back of his mind, dementia has wiped them out. When I became his caregiver, and started bringing fast food home every night, it was obvious this may have been on his bucket list since mom had made him eat healthy for the past 56 years. He became obsessed with french fries and anything chocolate.
A perfect bucket list kind of day for Dad was sitting in his recliner, watching a baseball game while sharing snacks with the fattest dog on earth. Fortunately the overeating of sweets didn't affect Dad's health, although I can't say the same for the dog.
Dad has lost most of his teeth (OK, maybe the overabundance of sweets for eight straight years while on my watch did have some side effects) so the staff doesn't take any chances he might aspirate on food again, so everything they serve him is pureed. He'll eat it because he'll eat anything you set in front of him, but he's not happy about it.
Having made so many trips up and down the hallway at the nursing home, by pedaling his feet in the wheelchair, the soles of his tennis shoes were coming off. He's a master at wheeling himself around, stopping every once in awhile to take a short cat nap, then he's back at it again.
When I showed up with his two new pair of tennis shoes, he and his "girlfriend" were the only ones left in the dining room. Nearly every visit lately has included this spunky woman who's put a claim on Dad, which he doesn't seem to mind. Although Dad's no longer verbal, she is, and even though she doesn't make a bit of sense, I enjoy having her join us.
Dad was focused as a laser on her plate while she talked about her sister and roosters with an occasional cock-a-doodle-doo thrown in between sentences. His plate was long gone while she had little interest in eating, so her plate was full of french fries. He wasn't going anywhere.
I took a handful of fries and put them in front of him. He looked around for staff as he knew they weren't part of his regular menu. She started giggling hysterically as he shoved them all into his mouth. He was still trying to chew them up when the salon lady showed up to shave his werewolf ears.
I'm adding one more unrealistic item to my bucket list - one more afternoon, sitting at Dad's picnic table, listening to the same stories I've already heard a hundred times.
Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at email@example.com