One of the things I loved to do with my Dad when I was little was to drive with him to the dump. My Dad had an old truck and we drove on lots of dirt roads. I would bounce all over!! I can remember being asked if I wanted to go and of course, saying YES! I always liked to be around my Dad. I don't remember him saying anything especially profound or anything like that, but I loved to be in his presence. I loved to hold his big hand with my little one. I always felt so safe when he was around.
It has been almost ten years since my Dad suffered a traumatic brain injury and very nearly lost his life. Although he lived, many things changed for him. When my family moved to NJ to be close to our parents, I wanted to help my Mom and Dad in a practical way. My sister and I both decided to go to my parents house once a week so my Mom could get out of the house for a little bit. On our day, we would sit with my Dad, make him lunch, try to keep up with him while he walked down the hallway (He never quite got the idea he was supposed to wait for us;-) and just make sure he was safe. It was such a pleasure to be able to help in a tangible way.
Those dates once a week started to morph slowly. Since my Dad lost so much when he had the TBI, his confidence was not great. He didn't feel comfortable going to a restaurant and trying to figure out what to order. At that time, he could not see very well at times. One day, I specifically asked him if he wanted to go to McDonald's and get a quarter pounder. Very specific. He went. It was short. Gradually, we were going out to eat to other places and he was choosing his meal, although I would read some things on the menu out loud for him.
Now, nearly ten years later, we have a pretty firm date once a week. We both look forward to it. I leave all of my errands for the week for that day and he takes me out to lunch. What an unexpected blessing from such a difficult time. I doubt that I ever would have thought to spend one day a week with my Dad, but how very blessed I am for the time that we have spent together.