Our first night out on the epic seven-week, sixteen state RV trip I wrote about in A Long and Winding Road, we cooked dinner on the grill and ate outside. After dinner we were enjoying the evening breeze when Mom looked at me and said, “We must be the luckiest old people in the world—getting to go all these neat places with you.”
Later, after she and Dad moved into assisted living, outings became more difficult. The last time we took them out, we loaded everyone into my brother’s van and went for ice cream. It took a while for them to walk from their room to the car, and getting them both in and buckled up was a chore. Ice cream was dripped on shirt fronts, and both of them were exhausted by the time we made it back, but it was worth it. Anyone who has watched Alzheimer’s steal a loved one away a piece at a time lives for those moments when the light shines through, even for a brief moment. When Mom turned to me with a bright, ice-cream smeared smile and said, “This is fun,” I knew it wasn’t a waste of gas.