Friday, August 10, 2012

The wizard, my father and Sam

Sunday afternoon means coffee and oatmeal raisin cookies
“Hey, would you like to hear a story about a wizard?” my father asks hopefully on most of our Sunday outings.

Regardless of my answer, he will tell the story. Sometimes starting at the beginning, sometimes in the middle, eventually he will look up and say, “You’ve heard this story before.”

I have. I know the story well enough to recite it with him. I know the small details he has begun to forget.

“Yes,” I acknowledge, “I’ve heard it, oh, a few thousand times.” He smiles and says, “I thought so.” Still, he finishes the story. Saying the familiar words provides comfort. He is happy visiting that long ago place.

In the back seat of the car Sam scripts from Dr. Seuss: “…Not in a box. Not with a fox. Not in a house. Not with a mouse. I would not eat them here or there. I would not eat them anywhere. I would not eat green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am…” Like my father, it is a ritual he enjoys.

I lobby for a few minutes of time in the present. I have more luck with my father. He contentedly answers my questions before reverting to yet another familiar story from his past. Sam is more challenging, the world of make believe luring him away for longer periods.

We frequently travel as a trio, Sam, my father and me, giving me ample time to note their growing similarities. Some via shared DNA, others brought to us courtesy of autism and aging.

Sam has my father's tall, sturdy build; his gait strong and confident as my father's once was. I see the same ubiquitous smile light up their eyes. It is a smile full mischief and more contagious than the winter flu. Impulsive in one moment and lost in space in the next, without warning they can build to a quick crescendo of frustration only to quickly shrug it off and flash back to that familiar smile.

Sam has my father's slight, mannerly reserve on meeting new people and shares his common belief that a good day includes a big oatmeal raisin cookie at a local coffee shop while prowling for the next opportunity to tease.

Sam in his Papa's tux for his "prom".
They’ve both been known to belt out a tune just because it feels good; in a sea of madness, they can isolate the joy of a single moment, all while tolerating my need to straighten their collars and shirttails.

The bond between my father and Sam is evident. I marvel at my father’s patience when Sam is too loud or difficult to reach. He cheers the tiniest of successes and on a bad day reminds me to never give up. And Sam? He loves my father. It is as simple as that.  

We’ve settled into a comfortable routine these last few months. I suspect like me, Sam knows all about the wizard. I shouldn't be surprised, then, if one day I hear the wizard story emanate from the back seat. No matter. There are worse things Sam could learn. It is, as my father points out, “It's a very good story and everyone loves the wizard”

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  1. in a sea of madness, they can isolate the joy of a single moment

    oh how i love that. it's everything, really, isn't it?

    it was so great to meet you and sam yesterday!

    1. I was delighted to meet you as well. It was such fun to watch those beautiful girls of yours. And I heard the perfect comeback (hope you don't mind I may have to borrow it from you!).

  2. Um, Janet? Is there a post I missed where WE ACTUALLY GET TO READ THE WIZARD STORY???
    Because now I am unbelievably curious.
    If not, when you get some time, maybe you could write it for us. Please?

    1. Oh how I wish my father was here to read this! When we went somewhere and met someone new, I'd say, "Hey Dad! Fresh blood. You can tell them the wizard story." Oh how he would light up. Yes, one day soon I will share the wizard story.