I love summer. I love when the air is so hot that it hurts to draw in a breath. I love the feel of the sunshine soaking through to my bones. I love the bright blue sky and the white fluffy clouds. I love the fresh fruit of the season. Especially watermelons.
Summer is a time just ripe for adventure.
Family road trips. Days at the beach. Tubing down the river or fishing on the lake. It’s grilling hamburgers and sticky Popsicle hugs from little children.
Yet it’s also a time of pain for me. My late father was king of the summer adventurers and an infinite dreamer. He had a can do attitude and was a fascinating storyteller. He was sick a few years before his death with a host of health problems and he had COPD.
Because of low oxygen to the brain, COPD can affect the memory as well as other cognitive functioning. Those who have it will exhibit signs of dementia. They’ll lose track of time. They’ll call you in the middle of the night thinking it’s morning. They become incapable of managing their finances, their self-care and of protecting themselves from those who would prey on the elderly. They can be prone to verbal or physical outbursts toward others.
For his own safety, my father had to go into a nursing home. By then, he wasn’t always lucid. I will never forget that summer day that I called him to check on him and he said in a bewildered, broken voice that makes me weep as I type it, “They put me in a home.”
That was gut wrenching. But the next time that I spoke to him, he didn’t know me. Then he died one summer day and though it was expected, no one really prepares for something like that.
I think about him in the summer when I look up at that bright blue sky.