To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.
I don’t know about that Euripides…I don’t think my dad would agree with you.
Recap of today’s visit…..
A knock on the door sets the lastest weekly visit in motion.
My stepmom ushers me in the house with a smile. Smiles are good.
We exchange pleasantries and I wander into the den. Dad use to get up and come into the kitchen when he’d hear me come in.
He’s sitting in his chair reading the paper…..
“How are you doing Dad?”
“uh, I don’t know”
“What do you mean you don’t know Dad, you not feeling good today?”
“I don’t know.”
“Dad, are you feeling bad today? Are you sick?”
“No…uh…I don’t know—quit hassling me!”
“Dad, I’m not hassling you, I merely asked how you are today”
“Dad, do we have anything we need to do in the office today (aka my old bedroom)?”
“Don’t you remember, you were going to file away all that paper work and bills from last week.”
Funny how quickly I can forget the “fun” stuff…..
Gloria and I make our way up the hall, back to my old room, leaving Dad and his paper in peace just as he wants me to do…..
“I think he woke up a little grouchy”
“Don’t you think that perhaps it’s because he knew I was coming today?” I add chuckling a bit to lighten my own discomfort.
Gloria goes into her pursuit of the continued push to get Dad to embrace the idea of moving to an assisted living facility. How the filing cabinet needs to be purged–as she starts pulling some winter clothes out of the closet.
“I really like these pants but they’re too old and dated. I think I’ll take them to the tailors. The legs are too wide for flats, what do you think?”
“That’s a good idea. Are there any new file folders?”
Gloria wanders out with clothes in hand. I begin pulling out files that are really erroneous to the current crisis of bills and statements. A file for mother when she was our girl scout leader. A file on me when I was teacher of the month… directions to my house… printouts of my students long past winning various accolades for their art…. a file folder full of mini copies of the Constitution, always good to have I suppose…and then I find a couple of folders regarding my late brother. I open the file and find scrawled on the outside of an old envelop “happy father’s day to a dad who made a difference”
Are you kidding me? My Dad, each and every day, laments and mourns over my brother. You need to read a previous post Forgiveness one step at a time in order to understand those dynamics. Seeing this tattered old envelope I think how special that would be to me had I been the parent to have lost a child to such nonsense. Here was a small glimmer that a positive connection had indeed been forged…that to me would have been somewhat of the closure that Dad thinks has totally eluded him all these many years later—instead of holding onto that small revelation—he bemoans all that he must have not done causing the inevitable suicide. Yes he does have an obsessive sickness with all of this and yes he’s seen doctors regarding all of this business years ago– who simply prescribed anti-depressants. That’s all in a previous post……
I hear that familiar shuffle making its way down the hall.
“Hi Dad. I’m almost finished”
“Good, I need you to go down to the basement with me”
“OK Dad, let’s go”
I follow my dad down those awfully steep stairs that has all of us a little nervous over both of them traversing daily. He seems to maneuver down the stairs better than he does walking down the hall.
It’s a large cavernous unfinished room of a basement dating the house back to its inception of 1958. Here in this dark empty place resides the remnants of various peoples lives. Gloria’s previous lives. My grandmother’s pieces of furniture that Gloria decided from the get go were not her cup of tea. Mother’s things. Office furniture from my grandfather’s business that have been down there, gathering dust and rust, since 1967. My brother’s small scale train set, still set up and mounted on the huge piece of plywood board spray painted green and brown.
“Don’t you want to get this stuff?” he half asks and half tells me.
“Well Dad, you know my car isn’t that big. Maybe I can get a couple of the little tables.”
By now Gloria is down there trying to unload the entire contents of the basement on me at this very moment.
“You need a big truck”
Yes, well, not having one of those handy, I’m limited and try explaining that to her.
I grab some hand trucks and begin the hot push and pull through the yard up to the driveway and my unsuspecting car.
“You can’t do that by yourself” she commands.
Now she tells me…
“Go across the street and ask those yardmen to come help”
“Don’t worry Gloria, I’ve got this”
My dad is waiting by my car where he helps guide the table that I’m precariously attempting to lift into the back of my car. I like to think I’m still a bit strong, but this almost was too much for me to handle. My husband would be having a fit if he could have seen me.
The thought suddenly occurs to me that we must look like the 3 stooges attempting to lug these tables to and fro with nary any assistance from the neighbor’s yardmen; most likely providing a little entertainment.
“I’m going to fix us all a ham sandwich” as Gloria darts for the house leaving me and Dad to head back down to the basement. Lord please don’t let him (or me) slide in this wet grass in those slick bedroom slippers of his… I silently pray. Funny how he can traverse the yard and basement when the circumstance demand…….
“She says we’ve got to go”
“I know Dad, but it will be a lot less overhead for you to worry about”
“This is my home, I’ve been here over 50 years”
I know Dad, but we don’t have to sell the house”
“No, you know Brenton and Abby, after they get married just may move to Atlanta, they’ll need a place to live….they can be the keepers of your house”
“Really?!” For the first time I hear his voice lighten.
“Dad, we don’t ever have to sell the house. They can live here, Brenton has always loved this house”
Which is something crazy to me because growing up in this house— I hated it…I always felt so claustrophobic in this house.
“Oh, well, that’ll be good”
For the first time since any of this assisted living business was first mentioned and the thought of a possible move hung over his head, Dad seemed to relax a little. He softened up, and suddenly, I was no longer the enemy….even though the move had been Gloria’s idea from the beginning…..hummm…
We head up to our awaiting sandwiches.
“Dad you want me to pass you the pickles?”
“You know I don’t eat pickles”
Of which I do but at last he’s finally responding to me happily as in times past, as he devours his sandwich leaving, as always, the crust behind…
No Dad, we don’t have to sell your house………..