This morning I had to run a few errands — take the trash left over from the yard sale to the local landfill, return some Redbox movies, and deliver a small case of C-fold towels to TCAW.
While I was loading the truck, Dad plodded out of the house and began to help.
There were seven old gallon paint pails, and I knew that the local landfill only allows us to deliver five gallons per day, so as I picked up the first two, I said to Dad, “We only need to bring five paint cans; that’s all they’ll let us throw away at a time.”
I put the first two in the pickup bed, and dad put two in. I got the fifth and put it in the truck, and turned to see Dad coming with numbers six and seven. I said, “We don’t need those, Dad. We can only throw away five today.”
Dad said, “Oh, OK,” and put the pails in the truck.
… OK. Maybe I’ll just drop them off tomorrow after work.
We get to the landfill, and I put the bagged trash into the compactors. When I came around to Dad’s side of the truck, I grabbed a couple of the broken-down boxes and said to Dad, “All the cardboard goes over there” as I motioned to and started walking toward the green container with the “Cardboard Only – Break Down Boxes” sign (incidentally, hardly anyone around here breaks down their cardboard boxes prior to putting them into this container. Can’t figure why. Sure can get a lot more of them on the truck that way.)
When I deposit my cardboard load and start back toward the truck, I see Dad with cardboard under one arm and sheet vinyl under the other. As I pass by, I say again, “Only cardboard goes over there,” as I take the vinyl from under his arm and head back to the truck for the last of the cardboard. I get to the truck, throw the vinyl back in, grab the the last of the cardboard, turn around, and there’s Dad back at the truck with his cardboard still under his arm. I start toward the container and motion for him to follow. We get the cardboard into the proper container.
I have a discussion with one of the attendants about where to put the rest of my trash. He’s been watching us and has noticed Dad’s confusion. He looks into the truck bed and asks, “Is that paint wet or dry?”
Honest Bob says, “Wet.”
Understand. Wet paint is a pollutant — an environmental hazard. it will kill us all. Therefore, we can only throw away five gallons per day.
Dry paint is, well, trash. We can fill a boxcar with dry paint pails without worrying the green police.
Shudda said, “Dry.”
Attendant – “You know, you can only leave five gallons of paint here …”
Then he took another look at me, then Dad, and said, “… but since there’s two of ya, I guess that’s less than five apiece. The paint goes over under the shed, and the rest can go to Number four.”
All the roll-on / roll-offs have numbers on them. Number four is way too full of tree limbs, and has a “CLOSED” sign on it. Whatever.
We get back into the truck – this takes a minute or two (Dad take a few moments to situate himself when getting into and out of automobiles) and drive over to “Number four.” I get out of the truck, check Dad to see what he’s doing (he’s getting out too), grab the two rolls of vinyl and head for the container. I find a corner where our stuff will fit, dump the vinyl, and head back to the truck.
Here comes Dad with two pails of paint.
“Dad!” I have to shout because a driver is dropping off another container about thirty fee away. “We can’t put the paint here! Everything but the paint!”
“No paint here! Anything but paint goes into this dumpster!”
He says this every time whether he knows what you’re talking about or not. He seemed to get it this time, though, because he headed back to the truck with his paint. I picked up some more stuff and handed it to him to throw away, then grabbed the last of the non-paint. As I turned around (this is getting familiar, isn’t it?) I saw Dad wandering toward “Number Three” (recyclable plastics only) with his armload of stuff. I managed to run him down and head him to the proper destination with me. We got our non-paint trash deposited.
We climbed back into the truck for the drive to the shed to get rid of our paint. We could have easily walked the paint over there, and I would have if I had been alone, but I wanted to as close as possible to the shed to eliminate as many distractions as I could.
We parked, got the paint deposited without incident, got back into the truck, and headed off for the next errand.
As we were driving, Dad piped up and said:
“We don’t know what’s become of the boys …”
“Newt, well, I guess they have him working.”
“Bob —“(long pause) “I don’t know what’s become of Bob. He never had a lot of work in him.”
“It’s a damn shame.”
I said nothing.
Newt’s my brother, Dad’s elder son. I’m Bob the younger.
To Dad, I’m Bob, the guy who lives upstairs. He comments about how hard I work around the house regularly (although his truck assessment about his son Bob is somewhat accurate — I’ve got a good bit more ‘sit and think’ in me than ‘work’) and he likes me. But to him, I’m not his son Bob. He’s just not sure where that Bob is right now.
Today — this morning — my life, in my Dad’s Alzheimer’s addled mind, was just “a damn shame.”
There was a time when his assessment was true. Thanks to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, it is true no more.