[Note: To read these blogs in chronological order, begin at the end: The Journey Begins.]
Today for the first time ever, Bo was at the casino and didn’t play craps or black jack. He just watched. And then we left.
I needed something for Mother so I suggested we go to AC. There was a visible change in his mood as he changed his shirt and prepared to leave. A spring in his step, enthusiasm. He got his casino stash and asked if I would drive. We stopped for iced coffee (caffeine ) and I answered his repeated questions as I drove.
To avoid heavy traffic, I took a slightly different route from his usual one; several times he said he had no idea where we were: “Glad you know where you’re going.”
In Atlantic City we stopped at McDonald’s before going to the Tropicana, so I could walk to a nearby store and he could buy a sandwich. On a piece of paper, I wrote where I was going and that I would be “back in 15 minutes.” Several times I repeated when I’d be back. On my walk back, as our parked car came into view, I saw Bo standing at the curb, paper in hand, anxiously looking for me.
I was hesitant about the casino. Would he be ok? I even wrote “Alzheimer’s – he may repeat or forget” on one of my own cards and had it in my hand to give to a dealer if the situation arose. Walking inside the casino with him toward the tables, I felt he was hesitating. I repeated three or four times to him that I was going down the hall to a store and would return in twenty minutes. Then I wrote it on the back of a business card and added, “I will find you” and gave it to him.
About 20 minutes later I was back on the casino floor. I found him watching a table of craps players, and instead of being in on the action, he was standing back. He had his money and my card in his hand, and I saw him look at it, then look around as if he was looking for me.
This was the first time I’ve really seen his dependency on me. His lack of self-confidence. Before, the adrenaline of the casino ignited him. It sharpened his memory and reactions, changed his personality. (And I must point out here that he was not reckless. He just loved the casinos … luck… the challenge. For years he kept a journal of wins and losses.)
“I guess it just wasn’t your night to play,” I said.
He agreed. “I watched a while. I just didn’t feel very sharp. It’s all right with me.”
I took his arm and we walked away from the casino toward the car. Another loss.