Do Something Nice for Yourself

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If you’ve been following the Neighborhood Storyteller column, it seems fair that I update you on my dad’s transition to assisted living last week, since I’ve already dragged you along to Caribou Coffee and Deerwood Furniture to set the stage for the move. I can say it went better than expected—at least, at the beginning.

After two days of pleasant, slightly tentative visits with my dad in his new home, it appeared he was reasonably content, if not just stoically resigned to the situation. My cautious optimism was shattered on day three, however, when he called to say, “Well, I’m ready to go home now, so someone needs to come pick me up.”

I am told this is normal. 

Mitigation of this crisis required an afternoon of in-person reassurance, redirection, a couple of Snickers bars, and a few hours of work by the cable guy so my dad could get Andy Griffith on channel 52 in his new digs. After dinner, I finally exhaled when he settled into his chair in front of Everybody Loves Raymond like he has every night for the past 10 years. I said goodnight, and slipped out during the laugh track. Thank you, channel 52.

“Goodnight!” one of the nurses called out to me as I made my way across the lobby toward the exit. She knew it had been a challenging day. “Do something nice for yourself tomorrow, okay? Something fun.” She winked at me over the top of her blue surgical mask and waved me out the door.

I couldn’t think of something nice to do for myself, or what something fun would look like, so I gave my husband a call. “Go down to the record store and buy yourself a record, Karla,” he said matter-of-factly while I warmed my car up. “Your dad’s got that nice turntable at the house, and great speakers.” Chris is a musician, a record collector, and a true audiophile. He could not tell you what color the outside of our house is, but he does know each component of my dad’s home sound system.

Chris goes to the record store just about every Saturday, and since he’s one of the most consistently happy people I know, it seemed like sound advice.

The next day, I went into The Gallery, a record store in my hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota. The Gallery is the perennial epicenter of cool in what I often deemed a hopelessly uncool town. It sells not only records, tapes, and CDs, but all things edgy and exotic, which, during the time I was growing up, included waterbeds. 

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