When Fiorella was a child, her father was the pumpkin king. Every year he would spread newspapers on the kitchen table and carve a grinning face on the orange squash, then set a candle inside it and set it on the front porch. So, with Halloween fast approaching, Fiorella packed her trunk with the makings for a classic jack-o-lantern and took them to her father's retirement home--a Marks-a-Lot, newspapers, a nice big pumpkin, and a sharp knife. She really couldn't spare the time because she was driving a round trip of seventy miles each day to her job at a rural college, teaching a double load of eight classes, and had a husband and house to take care of, but she wanted to make better connections with her father, who was having problems with Alzheimer's. Surely the pumpkin would do the trick.
But it didn't. Dad looked at the pumpkin and said, "What's that?" Then he refused to participate in the designing, the carving, or the cleaning it out, "You do it," he said with a slight smile, the same indulgent "women are so silly" expression he'd used when Fiorella wanted to spruce up the rusted lawn lamp in his front yard before he sold the house. So Fiorella made carved the pumpkin with him looking on and placed the final product on top of his window shelves, hoping it would bring him some Halloween cheer. As soon as she left, he carried it downstairs to front office.
Fiorella, of course, was hurt, but she understood. She now knew her father better than he knew himself.