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WHERE WE MARCHED, HIS FINAL YEARS by James McAdams

Here’s a pic of Dad and me marching at the Inauguration Protest, January 20th, 2017, he’s holding the IMPEACH TRUMP sign I duct-taped to his hand. He voted for Trump but that didn’t matter—what mattered, according to his neurologist, was that he get fresh air, sunlight, and exercise, away from the confinements of Lush Horizons. This one, yes, that’s him marching with the pink Breast Cancer Awareness cap at the Women’s March, January 21st. His gait palsied, hands slapping the air, mind still in the 60’s, the decade he said changed everything, the decade I was born.

At the airport, on January 28th, we marched against the Trump Travel Ban.

In the county park, on April 29th, we marched for People’s Climate Change.

During the marches, he had lucid moments when he’d look around at the spectacle of half-clothed college students taking Instas and Snaps, middle-aged women screaming into megaphones like rock stars, the squeal of the vuvuzelas. He’d croak my name questioningly but I’d just push him on, saying “Everything’s okay, Pop,” as he glanced skeptically at his T-shirt captioned “LIAR” in Republican colors.

Was it wrong of me to do this? Maybe it was because every time I watched the news I thought of him, a sort of “double consciousness,” always arguing against him in my head.

“You love him too much,” my therapist said.

“I can’t stop thinking of him,” I said.

She smiled, folding her hands. “Love can be a very frustrating emotion.”

Is my account of Alzheimer’s just literary, a figuration, a synecdoche for media saturation? When Obama was elected, Dad, still lucid, entered a different world. FOX News. Drudge Report. Breitbart. Limbaugh. Our weekly dinners devolved into polite discussions about the weather and traffic, tending to Mom’s grave, was I dating any special women. I was 52, he was 75. We’d drink two Yuenglings then shake hands. He spent his days reviewing the HOA budget for his condo association, walking the streets to ensure nobody had modified their external structure.

We joined the National Pride March, June 11th.

We joined March for Black Women, September 20th.

We joined March for Our Lives, March 24, 2018, three weeks before I removed him from the ventilation machine.

After March for Our Lives, I put him to bed in Lush Horizons, changing his diaper and applying lotion to his lower joints. He was exhausted, but made a clicking sign that meant turn on the TV. FOX was running a story about Hillary’s servers. Dad sighed. I remembered that sigh from childhood, when I’d appear at the dinner table with black nails, claim Reagan was a war criminal at family parties, refuse to attend church.

I got into bed with him and secured the bed rails. “I love you too much, is the problem,” I whispered.

He motioned me closer, his face grimacing, and pointed at the TV. “Lock her up.”

“Yeah,” I said, placing another pillow under his withered head. Then I rested my cheek against his heart, back like when I had nightmares. “Lock her up, Pop.”

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