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You Made Me Laugh, Dad

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Got the Christmas tree up, Dad.

I wasn’t sure about the onion rings… but they work. How many times did we sit in the food court at the mall, eat onion rings and watch the world go by? How many times did you stare at those onion rings the way a child stares open-mouthed at a magician doing his magic? Alzheimer’s had your mind, Dad, but it couldn’t stop your sense of wonder.

I remember the night I found you in the bathroom, cutting your hair with a kitchen knife. That one threw me. It scared me until you blew a kiss into the mirror and said, “Hello, handsome devil.”

You made me laugh, Dad.

That kitchen knife is hanging on the tree. I hang the hair brush and the toothpaste on the tree too. I go back to the morning I found you trying to brush your teeth with that hair brush. Before I could do anything you handed me the brush and said, “Someone should invent a better toothbrush.”

You made me laugh, Dad.

Your walking shoes are on the tree. How many miles did we put on those shoes? How many times did I suggest getting rid of them and buying something new? How many times did you do a Tennessee two-step around the sidewalk and say, “Lots of dance left in these. Save your money.” Alzheimer’s had your mind, but it couldn’t stop you from dancing.

There’s a neon green star on top of the tree, made out of the dead bush you spray painted. I remember you looking at me while you were spraying the bush and saying, “Nothing dies.” And then watching you spray paint a wasp and saying, “Except wasps.”

You made me laugh, Dad.

There’s a gift under the tree, wrapped in silver and tied in ribbons and bows. Only I will ever know it’s a box of adult diapers. Only I will ever know the day I brought them home, expecting you to throw them in the trash. And only I will ever have the memory of you holding them up to the light and saying, “Pretty sexy. Don’t let your mom know I’m wearing them.”

Alzheimer’s had your mind but it did not own you.

You made me laugh, Dad.

And every time I look at this year’s Christmas tree, I will laugh… until I cry.

Photo credit: LeszekCzerwonka/Getty Images

Originally published: January 30, 2019
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