Her elderly father sits in a wheelchair in front of a television. It’s an old console TV. The kind every American family had back in the early 80s. A big bulbous screen. An archaic remote that looks like a gadget from a James Bond movie and probably interferes with air traffic. He doesn’t move a muscle.
She is mid-fifties. Pretty. She sits on the sofa next to him. She talks to him. He can hear her, but he doesn’t say much in return. He grunts occasionally.
“He’s in there somewhere,” she says. “I know it. Every now and then he recognizes me.”
But not often enough. She touches his hand and says, “Daddy, are you ready for lunch?”
He says nothing.
He has Alzheimer’s. He has good days and bad days. She lives with him. And the way it usually works for her is like this:
—When he has a good day, so does she.
—When he has a bad one, her day stinks.
“It’s just part of the deal,” she says. “When you’re a caregiver, you spend every waking
moment in his world, wiping his face, brushing his teeth, I bathe him, too. That took some getting used to.”
But this column isn’t about Alzheimer’s. Not really. It’s about the big Douglas fir in the corner.
This Christmas, she sprung for a real tree instead of a phony one. It sits beside his television, covered in lights, ornaments, and golden garland.
They just put it up a few days ago. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. It all started one morning at breakfast when her father said, “Hey, Teresa.”
And he said it just like that. No big deal. Except that it is a big deal.
“I knew it was going to be one of his good days,” she says. “I had to hurry.”
So she called her neighbor to help. They bought a tree. They brought the thing into…