Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
“I’m telling you, Teddy, that’s exactly the way it happened!”
Not many places are able to bear the presence of an ADDer. Fewer still can handle two.
“Daddy,” asks young, tiny Leah in a big voice, “what is this place?”
“Shhh, SweetPea,” I softly admonish. “It’s a funeral home.”
“Is Grampy here?” she asks louder yet, compensating for my whispering as we walk through silent halls.
“Bug,” I lean down to her, “you must be quiet. Yes, Grampa Irwin is here. We’ve come to honor him … to make him happy.”
“Isn’t he dead?”
“How can you make him happy?”
“By being here.”
“But he’s dead, right? How does he know we’re here?”
“Leah B, stop being so loud.” I stop and lean down. “See that room?” I point at a chapel full of mourners.
“Yeah. Why are they crying?”
“Somebody in there is dead.”
“Oh,” she says, soberly. “What ’bout that room, Daddy?”
I turn and see another full room, its occupants crying. “They’re mourning, too.”
“Yes. It means, um, it means they’re also sad.”
“Someone in that room is dead, too.”
“DAD!” shouts Leah, grabbing my hand. “Daddy, please – let’s get out of here! Everybody’s dying!”
Heads in three different rooms spin toward a panicked tot and embarrassed father.
I freeze, but lips whisper. “It’s OK, Leah. These people died somewhere else. Grampy died in the hospital, remember? But now he’s here.” I pick up my shivering youngster to console her and we walk into the viewing room.
Leah comments nonstop. “Hey, that’s the kind of flower Grampy liked. Who put up those paintings? I like these lights, but those are kind of old. Do you – ”
“Youngster, be quiet. We’re going to Irwin’s casket –
“ – up there. See? Where his body rests.”
“He’s not dead?”
“Yes, yes. I just mean where his body is. We’re going to look at him and say goodbye.” We lean over. Leah touches his chest.
Horrified, I blurt, “Bug, what are you doing?”
“Shhh,” cautions the smiling greeter at the viewing room door.
“Waking Grampy.” She laughs and tugs Irwin’s lapel. “He’s just ‘play sleeping,’ Daddy.”
“Shhh!” emphasizes the unsmiling greeter at the door.
Sweat breaks out as I look around and simultaneously pull Leah away from the casket. Setting her down, I hiss, “Not another move, another peep, another anything!”
“Quiet!” snaps the snarling greeter at the door.
Did he ever marry?
Some hint he brought a foreign bride home from the second world war, but an overbearing aunt forbade the woman to stay at the Washington State farm Irwin helped run. Heart breaking but ever the obedient nephew, Irwin sent his lover overseas once again and stayed single the rest of his lonely days.
My peripheral vision fills with the image of a tiny child, feet in one place but body wiggling and arms extended in front of her. “Now what, Leah?”
This little girl is wiggling this way, then that, aiming her body in the direction she’s flying and laughing with abandon. Anger dissolves. “Anything else, kid?”
“Yeah. Let’s not be so sad. Grampy always laughed a lot. We shouldn’t cry. He’d want us to be happy.”
With that, a cute sage – wise beyond her years – and a thankful dad bid “zooming” Grampy goodbye a final time and go in search of ice cream.
Postscript: I’ll know who reads these “afterthoughts” when readers e-mail me, wondering where the six screens’ comments are in this week’s story.
And I’ll laugh in reply, “The postscript clearly explained we didn’t NEED the screens’ comments because two generations of ADDers say right up front everything the screens think.”
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In their wildest dreams …
Fallon and Diaz photobomb with abandon
Fallon loses lip-sync sing-off with Stone