Al and I spent a night in a local hotel on our last night in Indiana. The next morning Al was very talkative and ready to get out-of-town. My daughter was here and she was driving us down. We ate breakfast and took one last look at the home property and headed out on the highways.
Al was amazing. He did well on the trip. It was a 24 hour drive. He made me smile many times as I discovered he knew each license plate and what state they were from. There were times when he also knew the county the plate belonged to. This occupied him for the better part of the trip.
Al enjoyed stopping at restaurants and gas stations. Something new to look at and discover. We went past the huge Coca Cola plant in Georgia. Al was so excited to see that. I will always remember the Coca Cola plant.
I had contacted them one time and explained how Al was a big fan. The company sent him several souvenirs and invited him to take a tour. Although we never got to do that Al always treasured that package that came for him in the mail.
We arrived in Florida. It sure was hot. The truck arrived and they started unloading while we started trying to empty boxes. My daughter stayed for a few days but then went back to Indiana. I sure did miss her and after she left I cried like a big old baby.
It took quite a while to find our way around. The city we lived in was Sarasota and it was much bigger than our home town. One good thing that came out of our scoping areas was I found a place Al could go to through the week days.
It was a place where disabled adults could hang out. They ate lunch there. They socialized and played pool. There were counselors that came in and spoke to each client.
The best thing that Al liked was getting to go on outings. Since the city was so big many businesses donated tickets to different events. Al was fortunate to be able to go to several movies, plays and he ate out once a week and sometimes twice.
He got to go to Tampa to baseball games. He went to outlet malls in different towns and got to go shopping. He searched for Coca Cola in every flea market they visited. He sometimes went to Siesta Key beach and the group of them cleaned the beach of trash.
He was never crazy about doing that job but he went because he knew he would be with his friends. Al loved to talk. I always called him the social butterfly. Everyone knew Al and he seemed to never know a stranger.
The weeks turned into months and the sun seemed to be a big help to Al, but things never stay the same and one day he started having chest pains. I thought he was having another heart attack and so the EMS was called.
He wasn’t having a heart attack but the doctors knew he was experiencing something real. They admitted him into the heart hospital. The doctors discovered he had new blockages but they were not bad enough for repair. They also learned he was experiencing heart angina.
He was dismissed the next day and we just took it easy at home for a couple of days. There was nothing really to do for him, but I started keeping better mental notes of what was happening and how he acted.
More time went by. Al and I enjoyed some dinners with family and we learned of a great Amish restaurant. It was a buffet type and all the food was made from scratch. This place became Al and my favorite place to go.
Inside Dutch Heritage they also had a section of reproduction and genuine antiques. Another part of the restaurant was a bakery. Al always made a stop in front of the glass and admired the sweet treats. After a couple of visits we found a little section that had day-old goodies and in no time Al was picking out one thing to take home on every visit.
Oh these memories make me smile. I had seen Al so sad and angry for so many years. It was a pure joy to my heart and soul to see him smile and talk and laugh. He had a full life. A life full of friendships, exciting places to go and awesome places to eat.
One day Al had been to an evening outing. The bus brought him home and when he came in the door he seemed fine but in a blink of an eye everything changed. He looked at me as if he was seeing a ghost. He started to cry. He asked, ” Who are you? I don’t know you and where am I”?
It scared the crap out of me. I had never seen him like this and I knew without a doubt he was playing no joke. I tried to tell him who I was and where we were but he was scared. I called the EMS and they came.
After numerous questions they suspected Al had a seizure. They took him to the hospital and he was admitted once again. Several tests were done on him but each one came back negative.
A specialist for brain issues came to see Al. He wanted permission to do a special test. I was all for it as long as I knew Al was not going to suffer in the process. The doctor explained the procedure. Wires would be attached to Al’s head and they would take a different type of picture that would go deeper inside the brain to see if they could find anything.