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  • Grandpa Jose is my elderly 79 year old father-in-law. He has had multiple strokes and is suffering dementia because of it. I sometimes watch him as he can no longer be left alone. On the day I captured this photo we had an interesting adventure.

    In the morning he was wandering around checking doors upstairs and I asked him where he was going. Surprisingly, he and I shared a long discussion, longer than he has shared with me the last few times I had been over to watch him.

    He said, “I need to inspect all the doors and make sure the hoozitz are locked.”

    Smiling, I replied, “Yep. It’s important when your hoozitz get locked.”

    Grandpa Jose went on, “For security. Si. I fiddle with the thingy so it gets closed. Then no one can intrude. I go to all these wood things (he means “doors”) and I push them, but sometimes the push is not so pushy and it doesn’t work.” While we are standing in the hall, he quick-as-a-flash unhooks the fabric that my sister-in-law has tied to lock the closet and upstairs doorways.

    “No, we can’t go in there.” Firmly, I rehook the fabric and he looks angrily at me and starts to open another bedroom door, so I distract him. “Okay-dokey Grandpa. How about we go downstairs and watch tv?”

    He looks me in the eye and says in a slow broken way, “No. Can’t. Must. Find. Candy. I hid it so no one will know where. I have to get this mouth taste out of my mouth.” ::he pauses in the upstairs hall and stares into space trying to remember where he hid his candy.::

    I say, “WAIT! I know where you hid it – downstairs in the kitchen!” He frowns at me like I’m crazy. I run downstairs as fast as I can, grab a candy sucker, run back up to him and show him a wrapped dum-dum sucker. I say, “I’ve got it for you! Let’s go downstairs and we can have it!”

    Grandpa knocks my shoulder aside in his anxiousness to get to the sucker, then forcefully rips it out of my hand, and says, “Thank you!” He struggles to unwrap it as we’re walking back down the stairs and almost falls because he is so focused on the sucker. I hold his hand and arm to make sure we get down safely as he is staring at the sucker and taking a step (sucker, step, sucker, step).

    When we get downstairs he refuses to sit down and begins opening drawers in the kitchen searching for something. I say, “Grandpa? What are you looking for?”

    He says, “More!” Candy is one of his joys in life, especially dum-dum suckers, and he loves it with a passion.

    Smiling again, I say, “Maybe one more?”

    I pull out the candy holder. He reaches in and snatches out two suckers and unwraps them.

    “Okay. Two then.” I smile at him. He smiles at me. He is happy in that moment, standing there with me sharing the pleasure of food.

    Then he turns and walks quickly back to the couch in the tv room and sits down, wraps his fuzzy blanket all around him, has three suckers in his mouth, and is content.

    When I watch him I am increasingly reminded that it is the simple pleasures in life that make us happy.
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