Note from SweetPoyzin: Language warning.
The big day dawned over Salmon Woods. Most people had no idea. In fact, even most of the people who would be changed by today’s events didn’t know.
“Don’t you dare tell Dr. Pagano who I am and certainly don’t tell him who my mother is.”
“I won’t, Dani. Relax.”
“I will do no such thing! Today I’m finding out my father’s future and the guy who is going to tell me is the man my mother considers ‘the one who got away’ so don’t tell me to relax.”
Try as I might, I couldn’t relax. Despite hardly sleeping, I was full of anxious energy. I should have had Lucian cancel the appointment as soon as I knew who his expert was. This was an epicly bad idea. I pondered just how bad it was as I raked the sidewalk. It was definitely one of those days. Then it was time to go get Dad and the day went from bad to worse.
“Do I know you?” In all the excitement, I had forgotten that Lucian missed the party and therefore knew absolutely none of my family members.
“No, sir, you don’t, but I’m dating your daughter so I’d love to get to know you. I’d shake your hand but I’m driving.”
“Hm. Well, you seem odd but if Ellie Jayne likes you then so be it.”
“Ellie Jayne?” Lucian cocked an eyebrow at me through the rear-view mirror.
“A life time ago. Very similar to Declan.” I sighed and went back to staring out the window. Unfortunately, we were meeting Dr. Pagano at Lucian’s office which was only a five-minute car ride. Before I knew it we had arrived and I was about to come face-to-face with Mom’s Mr. Right so he could diagnose my dad with something bad.
Lucian had my back like a champ.
“We’re all set, Ms. McNamara. Lucian sent your father’s records and a history to me via email so I can start chatting with your dad here right away.” Dr. Pagano did appear to be as sweet as my mom imagined him to be.
“Oh, um ok? Daddy? I’ll be right outside. Dr. Pagano is going to get to know you a bit.” I choked back a sob and Lucian ushered me from the room and into his office. It felt like we waited for years but it was only an hour.
Dr. Pagano came in and made himself at home behind Lucian’s desk. It was obvious that he and Lucian were good friends given how quickly Dr. Pagano arrived, but today he was all business.
“Ms. McNamara, based on the cognitive tests that I just gave your father, it would appear that he is in the early stages of dementia. I’m so sorry.”
“How can that be?! My dad? He’s so young still!” Lucian grabbed my hand.
“Sometimes it just happens. There’s so much we don’t know about the brain yet. I’d like to see your father regularly to monitor his function and we’ll get him on some medication. Is he married?”
“Uh, yes. I — I’ll have to talk to my mom about everything but I’ll make sure he’s getting what he needs.”
“Good girl. Lucian is a lucky man. I’ll make sure to brief him on everything as well. That way, if you have questions and can’t reach me, you’ll have the next best thing. Do you have any questions now?”
I sighed. “I don’t even know what to ask, Dr. Pagano. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. This is a lot to process. Take your father home and get some rest. I’ll call you tomorrow to create our plan of attack.”
We all stood and shook hands. Lucian and Dr. Pagano chatted quietly while I led Dad out to the car. Since Owen was still in town, we dropped Dad off there so I could tell Owen we finally had some answers. Then Lucian and I began and long, silent ride home.
“FUCK!” We were all out on the patio enjoying the sunshine. It was odd for Lucian to be outside in the middle of the day, but he was willing to take one for the team.
“Mommy say a bad word,” Violet giggled from her swing.
“Sokay, mommy. Are you sad?”
“I am, Beanie. Mommy’s Daddy is sick.” This was the first time that Beanie had asked me questions about my own feelings. Perfect. She could have picked a better time…like if I had stubbed my toe.
“Then my Daddy fix him. Right, Daddy?”
“I’m going to try. My friend will try too.” Lucian squeezed me closer to him.
“They is a good friend, Daddy.”
“Oh shit.,” I looked at Vi, “Mommy didn’t say shit.” I rolled over and looked at Lucian, “I have to talk to my mom before Dad gets home and starts chatting about Dr. Pagano. What the fu – fudge do I tell her?”
“I think you just tell her, babe.”
“So like ‘the bad news is Dad has dementia but the good news is that he was diagnosed by the man you never stopped loving.'”
“Sure why not? You’ve just got to start the conversation somewhere, Dani.”
So I called my mom and told her to meet me at the bakery. I bought us a peach pie, Mom’s favorite, to share while we chatted.
“Act natural, Dani. Get it together.” I sat on the bench and talked to myself until I saw Mom pull up.
“Ok, Danielle, what’s wrong?” Mom plopped herself down across from me.
“Whatever do you mean, Mother.”
“That is exactly what I mean. Something’s up. You’re acting too weird. Weirder than when you were trying to hide your pregnancy.”
I should have asked Aunt Liv to do my dirty work again. I let out a deep breath and inhaled.
“Dad’s been acting really weird, Mom. Everyone is concerned, especially Annie and I. So today I took Daddy to the doctor. And — well, Dad’s got dementia.” Have you ever seen someone implode? Like literally implode? Life as they know it gets upended and they just get smaller because suddenly the burden is too big to bear? That’s what happened to Mom right in from of my eyes.
“I knew he wasn’t entirely himself lately. He made some odd decisions –”
“Mom, there’s more. Dad’s doctor. The guy who is an expert in this field. It’s Dr. Pagano.”
“Yeah, Mom. That Dr. Pagano.” Before I could assess how she was, my mom jumped from the table.
“I have to go home now.”
“Mom, you need to sit. You look pale. Mom, sit! MOM!”
“I’m fine. Just leave me here for a few minutes.”
“Mom, it’s been ten minutes already.” At least she was talking now.
“Hm, well. I guess I should get up then?” I helped her to her feet. “Can I get a slice or five of that pie, Dani?”
“How about I just buy you your own on our way out?”
In the meantime, we sat and ate some pie.
“He doesn’t know you’re my mom. I didn’t tell him.”
Mom was quiet for a beat. “How long have you known he was coming?”
“Yesterday. Do you want to meet him?”
“I don’t know, Danielle. What am I supposed to do now? I was happy. I was finally happy after all these years. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“I know, Mom. I can’t promise we’ll be okay but we’ll get through this together.”
Note from SweetPoyzin: I know the end of this chapter might seem like I’m not taking the subject matter seriously. That is not the case. Dementia runs deep in my father’s genes and while he is not suffering any signs currently, that day will come no doubt. In my own genes, is a terribly dark sense of humor bestowed upon me from my grandmother. She never once felt sorry for her situation. She laughed irreverently at every curve-ball. The conversation between Dani and Penny is one I could see my grandmother and I having. I sincerely apologize if my demeanor offends, but I cannot separate the writer from the characters when the subject is so personal.
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