After cleaning and rearranging the grandkids playroom, making a week's worth of healthy meals, watching more college football games than a sane person should, I retreated to the DYI channel.

Not sure why I’m hooked on watching people tear up homes and then put them all back together, but it’s a bit addicting. The entire time I’m making mental notes of how I could apply the same technique to projects needing to be done around here, knowing full well it will never happen, since he won’t let me use any power tools.

Watching people moving in and out brought back memories of living with Dad after mom had passed. The dementia had taken hold of him and although I thought he could live alone, I couldn’t take the chance after promising mom I would look after him.

My niece had graduated from college and needed a place to stay, which worked out well so my home didn't set unoccupied. My daughter and I moved our things into dad's home slowly, carefully and quietly.

Dad was grieving over losing his life partner of 50 years, so the last thing he wanted to see where her things being moved out and ours in. We spent many evenings, after dad went to bed, moving back into my lifelong childhood home. Mornings would come and things had been moved in and out, but dad never said a word. I was never really sure if he just couldn’t remember how it looked the night before, or he choose to ignore it, but either way, I was certain he wouldn’t be able to watch the process.

I was confident he would have something to say when I moved over my cone-shaped tree made of sticks, twine and grapevine wreaths I had bought at a festival years ago. It stands at least 8 feet tall and I worried this would be too much for dad to handle the next morning when he got up to drink his coffee and stare at the newspaper.

I approached him with a smile and said "guess what I'm going to make for us?" The first thing he thought of was a cake, cookies maybe. No I said, better than that, I'm going to make a winter festival tree right over there in that empty corner (emptied while he was sleeping).

“What in the heck,” he said, “who puts up winter festival trees?”

We spent the next two hours attaching lights, decorating with leaves and pinecones. In the end dad decided it looked OK but was concerned his dog might mistakenly think it was for his use.

I remember this moment as being a milestone – bringing my world into his, with his acceptance, and knowing I had made the right decision to move in with him, as it was evident he couldn’t be left alone for long periods of time.

The best part of this story is, the next morning, while I was sleeping, he made space and unloaded my box of cattails. I probably wouldn’t have put them in place of the good china, but he smiled ear to ear when I told him I loved it.

-- Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at