I grew up going to carnivals. Fairs, rides, games, fried food in every imaginable concoction were the backbone to outings with my dad. He loved the carnival experience, I think, even more than I did as a kid. In my twenties and thirties, I still made time to go to fairs with my dad. Fairs were bonding. They were a day outside, enjoying summer, taking in the sights and sounds, the people (Eavesdropping on conversations are very important to maintaining true character dialogue, and fairs always, always, always provided the “true” down home Americana dustbowl vibe to the human experience.)
Then in 2010 Parkinson’s disease came, and I lost my dad. Dad disappeared quickly. Or maybe it was slow and just in my fast paced life I didn’t notice right away. Little pieces of his brain were stolen, and in my heart for each stolen piece of who my dad was, anger replaced that for me. I hate Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s doesn’t know me, doesn’t know my dad, and doesn’t know what we shared. How dare this disease, this entity, invade our lives, our relationship, and take everything away.
Yesterday was a gift. We took Dad to the fair, and he was happy. It has been so long since I experienced life behind his eyes. Exhilaration watching the kids go on rides, seeing cows and various farm animals on display. Tractors coming in for the annual antique tractor pull. There was no negativity, no thoughts of fear on what was happening to him and why, no frustrations over his physical challenges now. Dad was Dad. Patient, laughing Dad who just wanted to spend the afternoon having fun. Because life is about fun. That’s what you “bust your ass all week for”, he always said. “To have fun on the weekends.” Dad was exhausted when he got home, but he had a good day.
He had a good day.
So rare now and a blessing. I will remember yesterday with fondness and grace. I will remember it as a gift.