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A Week on the Road with my 80 year old Dad

My dad recently turned 80.  For his birthday we invited him on a road trip.  Our plan was to go from our home in Gig Harbor to Sacramento to visit my son.  At my Dad’s request we added a trip over to Nampa Idaho to visit his cousin.  Only about 15 hours out of the way.  No problem.

So it was a fun and interesting week.  My Dad is very inquisitive.  He asks a lot of questions.  He knows a lot of things and he wants to know a bit about everything.  He can’t remember most anything you tell him, but he wants to know anyway.

Actually his memory is quite good – if you are talking about something that happened in 1947.  But if it’s something that happened this morning or last week forget it.  So we spend a lot of time playing the 20 questions game trying to help him remember people’s names or names of other things or places.  This actually made the 15-hour side trip go by a little quicker.

Once he dozed off.  It was quiet in the car for about 15 minutes.  Then he was back.

The most useful tool on a road trip like this is the rearview mirror.  My husband sat quietly in the back seat most of the time, and we could make eye contact in either a “what the?” moment or an “I give up” moment or a “Help me can you drive now?” moment.

My Dad loves to road trip.  He has a camper he still takes on trips, shorter now that he is 80.  In fact staying in a hotel with was an adjustment for him.  He’s used to getting out from behind the wheel and walking three feet to his bed.  In fact, on our road trip we had to go buy him a toothbrush. He never packs a toothbrush because he keeps one in the camper.  Opps.  No camper = no toothbrush.

He also knows every road and highway across the United States.  His memory seems to be able to hold Hwy and Interstate numbers and he can describe where each one goes, through what valley and what year he drove it.  He can describe this over and over and over.  And over.

I jest about my Dad, because actually for 80 he is still very sharp and healthy.  Some things he should no longer be doing – like taking a road trip by him self.  Or using his skill saw alone in his garage.  He never misses a moment to show a total stranger how he cut his thumb off just a couple of months ago.

He was fascinated with my GPS and my I-phone, particularly the camera.  More questions. I have no idea how these things work.  They just do and thank God for it.  I don’t need to understand the technology.  But he sure does.  I’m no help here.My husband pretends to be asleep in the backseat.

I don’t suppose I will have too many more opportunities to road trip with my Dad.  It was a good week.  I’m really glad we did it! I learned some things about the landscape; both the one outside the car and the one inside.  Happy Birthday Dad!

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