Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Buttering Toast

I couldn't help but smile this morning as I spread butter on my toast. I will probably never butter toast again in this lifetime without smiling.

The last few years of visiting with Mom and Dad bring to mind a flood of memories. Most from visiting them at their home in Indiana, where I grew up, many from visiting Tennessee with them, where mom grew up, and a few from my home in Louisiana, where they used to come visit me and my children on occasion. Never though, in all those visits, did I ever fix breakfast for dad, that he didn’t admonish me about how I was supposed to butter his toast.

For that matter, it could have been jelly, peanut butter, mustard whatever... anything one might spread on bread. For him to be happy, it had to go all the way to the very edges. I had toast thrown back in front of me on the countertop and told to ‘fix it right’ on more than one occasion. I can’t tell you how many times, after I would make an exaggerated effort to spread ‘whatever’ to his satisfaction, he would thank me (after prompting) then tell me how mom wouldn’t bother to spread the butter right... all the way to the edges just the way he wanted it.

His usual comment would be something like, “Shuuucks, she may as well give me a piece of dry bread for no more trouble than she goes to.”

Pleasing dad wasn’t always easy. In fact, there were times it was darn near impossible. Ask mom. He wasn’t always reasonable. Alzheimer’s has a way of taking the reason right out of people. This dreaded disease was fairly well controlled in dad. He would have the odd time of slipping away from you in the middle of a conversation but mostly he simply acted and behaved in a child-like manner.

He was belligerent a time or two when I was around, one time threatening me with his cane in the parking lot at K-Mart... the same day he started to walk home in the rain because he was mad at me... the same day we finally got him home and found him outside in the rain putting a ladder up to the side of the house so that he could clean the gutters out. The man could barely stand up without his cane let alone climb a ladder in the rain! Getting him back inside that day was no easy feat.

Dad was always puttering, always trying to do something, wanting (and needing) to feel useful. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty reasonable desire. Isn’t that what most of us want... to be needed... to be useful... to have a purpose?

hmmm... maybe we should have let him butter his own toast!

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posted by Marsha at


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