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Let the Good Times Roll

 

Let’s face it: the good times can be fewer and further between as our loved ones grow older. Life isn’t always a party after friends and spouses pass away. Simply getting from point A to B can be a challenge. It has come to that for Dad.

That’s why I want to make the most of June. Dad turns 92 this month with Father’s Day soon after. And if there ever was a guy who loved a good time, it’s Dad.

He lived for his annual high school reunions, even if it wasn’t his honor year. He knew he’d see people returning for the big celebration, and he couldn’t wait. He loved lively parties and small get-togethers. Fishing trips and the Puerto Rico vacation were all memorable for Mom and him. He made the morning coffee klatches at the local cafe a priority.

Dad was the life of the party at my wedding, and I have pictures to prove it. He gravitated to people wherever and whenever he could. Dad made friends and cultivated relationships with ease.

Dad at my wedding.

Birthdays were extra special. My parents were part of a group of friends they called the birthday club. Four couples, several of whom had grown up together, scheduled a special night for each one’s birthday.  They went out to dinner, then to one of their homes for dessert and cards into the wee hours of the morning.

One June, years ago when I was a kid, Mom thought she’d try something new and surprise Dad for his birthday. She sneaked the birthday club into their small bedroom and crammed them in behind the bedroom door. There’s one thing she forgot, though. The first thing Dad did when he came home was strip off his work clothes. The birthday club jumped out from behind the door and came face-to-face with Dad wearing only his skivvies. The club got a bigger surprise than Dad. And that was the last surprise party.

There have been a lot of great birthdays since then, including my father’s 90th, organized by my brother and sister-in-law. The open house drew more than 100 people. He wasn’t quite the party animal of years past, but the birthday bash brought out that familiar twinkle in his eyes.

Trying to figure out how to keep the party going for a social guy like my dad is a challenge. We’re not sure exactly what to plan for his birthday this June. How do you bring the good times to life for older adults who can’t celebrate like they once did? Do you have any ideas for me from your experiences? I could use a few.

Dad’s birthday might end up being low-key this year. His energy level isn’t what it was when he could work a crowd with the skill of a politician. But if I can manage, I’ll try to figure out how to let the good times roll. Anything but jumping out from behind a door, that is.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. June 16, 2016 at 10:45 am | Posted by Iris

    The one thing that seems to spark my Mom's interest is music. Listening to music, particularly hymns for her, can wake her senses and almost always cause her to respond with smiles and song. Maybe having a small group of friends or family over to sing familiar songs would be meaningful to him?

    Reply

    • June 16, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Posted by Georgene Lahm

      Hi Iris, Funny you should mention that. I am headed to Dad's care community tomorrow for a Father's Day reception during which his all-male singing group will perform. They call themselves the "Moaners and the Groaners." He is so excited. They have been rehearsing for weeks. Music is a great thing for sure! His care community also brings in a couple of different singing groups each month. Thanks for your thoughts! Georgene

      Reply

  2. June 16, 2016 at 10:03 am | Posted by MR

    Playing music of any kind is relaxing and may spark memories for your father. I do not know how advanced he is in the desese, but if can recall songs from your wedding say, he might even smile. Good luck!

    Reply

    • June 16, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Posted by Georgene Lahm

      Thanks MR, See my note above to Iris. Yes, Dad loves music, both singing groups that perform at his care community and music shows on TV. He's also in a singing group at his care community. Thanks for your thoughts! Georgene

      Reply

  3. June 16, 2016 at 9:39 am | Posted by Diane Glittenberg

    Make a CD of some of your Father's favorite songs. Songs that remind him of the special times in his life. Include the song you danced to at your wedding, maybe some songs from his wedding. Music is a powerful tool to reliving special moments. Music is found to retrieve memories from all areas of the brain. My dad cherished the tape I made for him. Good luck and Good Bless you.

    Reply

  4. June 16, 2016 at 9:38 am | Posted by Bev

    Georgene, I'd like to know the answer to that as well. My Dad still enjoys talking with others and having others visit, but it's really hard for him to get out anymore, between the catheter and O2, both 24/7. He's at the point where some days he says its almost too much trouble to eat. All the ladies always loved dancing with him because he's tall and knew how to carry all the steps. Any suggestions?

    Reply

    • June 16, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Posted by Georgene Lahm

      At that point, Bev, you almost need to bring the party to your dad. If he's still at home, find some music shows on TV or rent some movie musicals. Invite family and friends over to watch with your dad. Make it a party with popcorn or goodies he can eat. Diane (above) mentioned making a CD of songs your dad might like. That was a great idea! Pick songs he danced to and ask him to share the memories with you.

      Reply

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