"Oh hi Johanna. How are you? How's Boulder? How's your family?"
Then, with either a lowered pitch of their voice, or delivered with a thread of anxiousness woven in came "How's your dad?"
Ugh. How I've hated that question for years. 13 long years.
My dad is my dad. My dad is alive. My dad, relatively speaking, is doing well.
(What does the realllly mean anyway?)
For the longest time, I never knew how to answer that question. Truthfully, that question was tricky because there was no good answer. I never really knew what people meant by asking it and again, it's all relative.
Do I share that he's lost, misplaced and forgotten his wallet only 4 times this week vs the "normal" weekly one time occurrence?
Do I share that he kinda just ghosted out of the room and went to bed without saying good night to anyone?
Do I share that while watching a Patriots game he forgot some rules of the game?
Do I share that he decided to "fix" the bolts in the front door knob panel which translates to him taking the entire thing apart, strewing tiny nuts and bolts everywhere and leaving the door wide open without a knob? In the middle of January?
The more I think about this, the more I think that I don't like the question because it seemed to imply something was really drastically wrong with my dad. Asked about in a way that one would ask about a co-worker, neighbour or friend who just had a really tragic accident happen and lost a leg. Or their +1 ran off with the secretary kinda thing.
I know that's not always the case and people are asking because they care. That much I do know and understand.
It wasn't the asking or the concern of people. I'm grateful people ask.
It was more just how to answer it that tripped me up.
If I said "He's great! He's fine!" then that would be that and the conversation would move on.
I would wonder, does he deserve more than that? Do I share with people a bit about what's going on?
It's hard to find the balance between a short 4 word answer and opening the door, sharing the latest development in his dementia which might just be too personal for people. I've never been good at finding that balance with anything.
But now I've got an answer.
I reply with "He's steady."
Because he is. He has been living with this disease for over 13 years now. In that time frame, a lot of people I've met have lost their parent to early onset after a very sharp, quick and ugly decline. But my pops is still here and he's holding steady.
So are we. Taking it one day at a time.
Love you Pops. xx