I glance up and see Dad nodding in his recliner. The sun streaming through the window is highlighting his amazingly-full, snow white hair. I marvel at how handsome he still is, even at eighty-six. The truth, that his increasing dementia is slowly changing him, stabs my heart once again. I thank God though, that despite his mind’s confusion, for now, he still remembers and cherishes his family and his faith.
Suddenly his head pops up. “Hi Honey, what are you doing?”
“I am cleaning up mom’s spam. I just noticed she has a lot of it cluttering her mail box.”
“I don’t think she had any of that stuff, Honey. She doesn’t much like it; and if she had any left-over, she would have fed it to the dog, not put it in the mail box.”
Giggling I tell him, “You don’t understand, Dad. I’m not talking about spam ham you eat; I’m talking about unwanted mail sent to computers. It’s like all the advertising junk you get so much of in your regular mail, filled with big promises, mostly not true.”
“That’s aggravating too!” he says puckering his mouth. “Like that Publisher’s Clearing House that keeps telling me I’m a winner, but I never get a prize. I keep sending those forms back too, like they say to. Maybe someday I’ll get that prize, because they ain’t supposed to lie.”
“Don’t hold your breath waiting, Dad! This computer spam mail is like that though. They send out all kinds of promises that are deceiving or downright lies. Like this one, that says it’s about freeze dried prunes. I won’t open it because it’s probably really about something else! Prune land. Right! Disgusting!”
“Yes, it is Honey, but when you get old like me your hands might start to look like prunes too, and though they ain’t so pleasing to look at, they’re still the hands God gave me, and they still work pretty good.”
“Dad, I didn’t say prune hands – oh never mind. Here’s another spam mail where it says mom won forty million dollars, and all she has to do is forward all her bank account information to them.”
“Well, I know she’ll be glad she won some money, but we better not wake her up right now, Hon. She can get ornery when her nap gets disturbed, but if you need to tell her about that bank stuff, go ahead and wake her up, she won’t care.”
“Don’t worry, Dad, I’d never wake Mom up to give out her bank account information. You can count on that!” Bowing my head to camouflage my ear to ear grin, I continue: “But look, here’s a spam mail that says a Russian woman is very lonely and wants to be your bride!”
“Well, ain’t that something! But I think I better keep the bride I got, and that’s your mom you know…”
“Yes, I know Dad.”
“…well because she knows where all my stuff is, and she helps me find it, because I forget things sometimes now Honey.”
“That’s why you want to keep Mom, because she finds your things? What about because you love her?”
“Well, you didn’t need to tell me that! I guess I know! I’ve been loving her since she was sixteen. She was the prettiest thing you ever saw. You remember how pretty she was, don’t you?”
“No, Dad, I wasn’t around then!”
“Oh, that’s right. But you write that Russian lady back and tell her God don’t want me having any other wife!”
“I think I’ll just delete it instead, Dad. But look here’s another one that says you’ve won a trip to Rio de Janeiro.”
“Well I’ll be!” Dad says, excitement flooding his face, “I was there, Honey, when I was in the Navy. That scenery and that big Jesus statue looking down at our ship was about one of the prettiest sights I ever saw! I always said I reckoned the only thing more beautiful would be Jesus Himself in those clouds!”
“I can only imagine, Dad!”
“Well, it’s sure something good to imagine! It’s always good thinking on Jesus.” His look turns sour as he adds: “Sure a lot better than those ham-mail things you’ve been reading. Fact is, Honey, those say some plumb stupid things!”
The irony of a dementia patient finding spam advertising irrational, floods me with laughter.
“Oh Dad, how right you are! And know what else? You are still one mighty smart guy!”
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