Dad was a hard-working guy. I remember once he didn't take a sick day for five years straight and he was so proud of it. His chemical plant job didn't pay much, but somehow he and Mom always put enough away for a family vacation where we'd explore our state's history and scenic coastline. We'd pull out of the driveway with the station wagon packed to the roof with beach chairs, camp stoves and air mattresses, heading east to the Delaware shore.
As soon as we left home, Dad left all thoughts of work behind and we had his full attention. Of course there was sightseeing—a ferry ride to Pea Patch Island to tour Fort Delaware, camping at Delaware Seashore State Park and ooohing and ahhhing at 4th of July fireworks on the beach. But thinking back, I realized the best thing about these trips, was the fact that we had time ... for watching seagulls along the shoreline ... for laughing 'til it hurt watching Dad trying to master the hula hoop ... for singing silly songs around the campfire ... for thinking and dreaming.
Dad retired ages ago and, for years, he still kept his old work ethic, getting up at the same time each day and keeping the house in ship shape. Since Mom passed away, however, we've all noticed the changes. He gets confused doing even simple chores around the house, and last week I found out he hadn't paid the electric bill. He's such an independent guy and none of us can imagine moving him to assisted living or a nursing home. We know he needs daily help, but how can we return the gift of time and allow him to stay in the home he loves?
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