Essay: Father’s Days

Christa Choi ’90 lives near the San Francisco Bay, where she writes, raises her children, and helps run a family business.  She grew up in Oregon, graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1990, and traveled extensively though not always safely in Europe and Asia before settling in California with her husband.  The world still shows up on her doorstep in the form of travelers, scholars and musicians from abroad, providing rich material for life and writing.

Dad was so reclusive, we didn’t recognize his Alzheimer’s as anything unusual. Even if we stopped by, we couldn’t be sure he’d invite us in. Eventually we found that he had been feeding himself and the dogs on peanut butter sandwiches for months. His sense of sanitation, as well as his body’s capacity for it, had disappeared.

It’s been three and a half years now.  My brother in Oregon had called with another excuse not to visit for the holidays:  Dad was missing.  We preferred the excuse from the previous year, when his call was followed by a photo of his little yellow VW Bug on the freeway, powdered in white, and a line of similarly stranded cars snaking away into the hazy background of falling snow.

This time, I was quiet so long he thought we’d lost our connection.  He’d stopped by Dad’s house near Seattle before leaving for the holiday – noticed the car was gone from the driveway, and heard the dogs crying on the other side of the door.  He just wanted to let us know that he was calling the police.

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