A Memory Reborn

I dropped off my youngest daughter at school and stopped by to visit my dad the other day (he lives in a nursing home here in town where he does his slow-dance with Alzheimer’s) and he was recounting the story of how he met my mom, some 60+ years ago. Now, I have heard this story countless times, mind you, but I always let him tell it. He is still a great story-teller – with a booming voice – and …many times strangers passing by will stop just to listen to him. So I sat politely and listened to the familiar family legend of how my mom and dad first met. He told of the day he met her at a church picnic and how he looked across the yard to see the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on, sitting with her parents. He tried to get up the nerve to go up and talk to her and introduce himself. As he went on, I watched him get lost in the memory as he seemed to fall in love with her all over again. But a new detail soon emerged that caught me off guard. My eyes perked up as he went off-script and I heard him say, “And then we were talking, just the two of us, and suddenly she said to me out-of-the-blue, “Ed, I’ve never had someone as GOOD-LOOKING as you talk to me before!” Like a needle scratching across a record, I sat up, startled at this new information. So I blurted out, “Dad, wait a minute! She NEVER said that! You’re totally making that up!” (Now if you know my dad, he has always been quite the comedian, and known to “embellish” a tale or two.) But he grew serious. “Honey, as GOD IS MY WITNESS,” he said dramatically, “YES she DID say that!” So I nodded politely and let him finish. The story ended with the usual flare; nothing out of the ordinary. After a while, I looked at my watch and told him I had to leave. He took my hand and kissed it, same as he’s done since I was a girl.  I got in my car and then dialed my mom’s number as I usually did, this time to “fact check” my dad’s story. I told her what he had said. She started laughing. Then, after a minute she said, “Um, no. That never happened. But it sure makes for a great story!” I smiled. Leave it to my dad to insert a good, old-fashioned ego stroke as he breathes new life into an old memory. The man’s still got it. Good for him.

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