We’ve had a number of hard days with Alice recently. Days in which she was acting decidedly below her age and capabilities. These days are very hard for both E and I and I’m sure for Alice as well. Sunday morning at 3:30, Alice got up and tried to sneak down to watch TV. It doesn’t matter if she tried since we have the TV on a remote switch, but she still needed to be in bed. I had to intervene several more times and, well, let’s just say that I didn’t get any more sleep that night. Of course while we were running some errands Sunday, Alice nodded off in the car. I can’t do that – I was driving. I didn’t sleep particularly well last night either (not from my little midnight sneak, hooray?). This morning after showering, I was having a pretty serious identity crisis as a dad. Why am I doing this? Does it make any difference at all? Could I be lazy and still get the same outcome? I swear I didn’t sign up for this. Not my best moment, but every parent has them.
Memorial day, for someone who plays in a band, means parade. I’ve played in the Florence Community band for 11 years now and I’ve been to many of the parades – fewer now that I have kids because there are only so many years that they’ll want to go to parades and I’m not going to “Cat’s In the Cradle” those. This year, I asked the director, Priscilla, if instead of missing the parade could Alice and I carry the banner for the band. Priscilla, the very definition of a good egg, was enthusiastic about it. I tried to make back up plans in case something went wrong, but Alice as super excited to do the parade so it turned out that we didn’t really need one.
Alice carried the banner with pride for nearly the whole parade. But that’s not the really cool part. Seriously. You might think, a girl with a stroke who can’t really grip anything with her right hand, carrying a banner while walking a mile – that’s cool, right? Yeah, but not as cool as the town we’re in. Alice was in her element and she knew it. Every quarter block there were several people who knew Alice and called out to her – not jeering, not teasing – honest pleasure, “Hey look, it’s Alice!” Alice shifted her grip on the banner to her left hand (her dominant hand) and waved with her right, calling right back. For most of the parade, I had to ask her to slow down so that she didn’t catch up with the Lions Club just ahead of us. I can’t tell you how nice it is as a parent to see so much of the town recognizing her or responding to her.
And there was my answer to why I was doing this, in my little dinky town lining main street and calling out to my daughter. Alice loved the parade and loved the attention. Towards the end, her stamina ran out and the gap between us and the Lions club kept getting wider, so she got into the truck pulling the band and I marched the rest with the banner, but still full of pride for what a great job she did and what a great job the town has done for her.