Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

Ralphie and the Art of Living Filter-Free

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Last week while grocery shopping with my dad, we ran into someone my parents first met at least four decades earlier. Dad didn't remember her but, to be fair, unless you've wronged him or his family in some way, you're a stranger. His son's favorite elementary school teacher, "Sorry, not ringing a bell." The kid who pulled his daughter's hair in fourth grade, "I remember that little bastard."

We exchange a few niceties with her, and as we turned to walk away, dad says (in a non-whisper voice), "boy, she's gained a lot of weight." Worried that this woman may try to punch him (because that's what I would do if someone said that to me!), I immediately ushered him out of harm's way.

We made it to the checkout without another "incident." Walking out, we passed a buggy with two children sitting inside. I smiled and kept walking. Dad grabbed my arm and in that same non-whisper voice said, "That little brat just stuck her tongue out at you!"

Thank God we were leaving.

Let me be clear that my Dad is not a rude person. He had a much better filter before dementia set up residence in his brain. Even so, he's still one of the kindest-hearted people I know.

The following week, we were back at the scene of the crime.

Dad was having a good day.

In the first aisle, we found the four-berry jam he loves.

In the bakery section, Dad talked about all of the cakes, pies, cookies and pasta my grandmother would make during her visits to Tennessee.

In the seafood section, he told me and anyone in earshot, he doesn't understand why lobster is so expensive since they "urinate out of their mouths!"

In produce, Dad picked up two bags of oranges without nuts. "Nuts" is Ralph speak for seeds.

At the deli counter, Dad said, "Excuse me! Your kid didn't cover her mouth and just coughed all over me!" to a lady passing by.

Not having a filter isn't such a bad thing for him. For the rest of us, a filter is a good thing. If I responded to the "How are you?" question with an answer like, "Give me sore nipples and colic any day of the week. I've aged ten years since Jacob turned 16." It would be uncomfortable for others and make me look insane. And not everyone needs to know that last night I Googled "home remedies for gas" and 30 minutes later found myself watching someone nicknamed Dr. Pimple Popper excise a man's 17-year-old cyst. It was disgusting but for a few minutes, I totally forgot about my gas.

Even though it's been tough to watch Dad change so much since 2012, at least it's been entertaining.

For now, I'll keep a check on my filter and live vicariously through my Dad's non-filtered approach to living.

Comments? becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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Becky Andrews, column, dementia, family, health, humor, memory loss, moms, opinion, parenting, Telling Tales, Wilson Living Magazine
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