During the thunder and lightning show last weekend, I tossed and turned, trying to go to sleep, but it just wasn’t happening. It wasn’t from the storm outside, but the whirlwind going on in my mind.

During the thunder and lightning show last weekend, I tossed and turned, trying to go to sleep, but it just wasn’t happening. It wasn’t from the storm outside, but the whirlwind going on in my mind.

Whenever there was any indication it was going to storm, Dad would plant himself on the picnic table in the backyard to watch the clouds roll in. As a pilot, he could tell you about every kind of cloud and whether or not it was going to produce rain or just float around. We lived down the street from a tornado siren, so there wasn’t ever a question of whether or not it was time to go to the basement, except for Dad of course.

Mom and I would huddle up in the basement, with the battery-powered radio, while Dad sat outside. It drove Mom crazy, but she knew no matter how insistent she was, he wasn’t coming in.

I lay there listening to the storm, reminiscing and picturing Dad, young and healthy, with that stern look on his face he’d always have when something wasn’t right. Then my mind would drift to him now and my pillow would get a little rain of its own.

Dad was a fanatic about being clean, well dressed and properly groomed, whether he was at home or going somewhere. Even as he aged, Dad was, and is, a handsome man.

It seems as though my visits to see Dad are getting less frequent and I feel awful that I can’t bring myself to go more often. I justify not going by telling myself he doesn’t know who I am anyway, but then again, I hope, deep down in his memory, he recognizes me, so then I feel guilty for not going.

Even though I know he’s being taken care of, the sadness I feel while I’m there is almost unbearable. Half the time he’s sitting in a chair, head down, sleeping and slobbering, with his hair – which was once neatly groomed with VO5 – sticking up every which way. His fingers are always interlocked as his hands rest on his lap. The once neatly manicured nails have been replaced with fingernails that usually need to be cut.

The front of his shirt and usually his pants have food stains, and a smear of lunch or dinner is still on the side of his mouth. I’ve replaced his favorite tennis shoes with a pair of slippers, since he can no longer tie his own shoes.

Although it sounds as though Dad is in need of having more attention, that’s not the case at all. During that last year when I was his caretaker, there were more times than not he looked like a mess, but it seems harder to take when I’m not the one to take the blame.

I finally fell asleep and dreamed of a man who called me by name and chased away my storms.