(Before I start, I have to say that I usually only blog when I’m emotional about something or want to talk about my brother or best friend. I’m not sad like this all the time. And I’m totally supposed to be taking some online tests for my science class but whatev.)
I miss my dad.
He’s still alive. As a matter of fact, I just left him after having spent the morning helping him go through his things in preparation for his move next week. He’s moving into an independant living facility and it’s going to be a really good thing for him. He’s really social but lives in a place that is made up of young people who work during the day. Dad is left to read and hang out with his dog, Max, which is not good for a retired mailman with the gift of gab.
We’ve been going through boxes, dishes, closets and cabinets. He’s a serious packrat and every time I pick something up, he says “That’s ANTIQUE, Janice. Like me.” Even if it’s an old rusty knife that needed to be thrown out years ago, he says it’s antique. I tell him there’s a difference between old and antique, and he says that “antique” just means it’s important to someone and we’d better keep it.
My dad has changed a lot over the last few years. We’re approaching the 5th anniversary of my brother’s suicide and I can say he’s never fully recovered from that. How does a father “fully” recover from losing his only son that way? He’s aged a lot, and he moves a little slower. It takes us longer to do things he did before… spending time with him has been a lesson in patience that has humbled my impatient heart.
The biggest change- and the one that bothers me the most- is the difference I see in his hands. My dad has always had strong, rough hands, made that way from years of hard work. He grew up on a dairy farm, worked in the dirt, raised horses and whipped a bunch of kids into shape. To me, they were rugged cowboy hands and I’ve always loved them. Most importantly, his hands weren’t like anyone else’s. When he was in Vietnam, he was sleeping with his hands crossed over his heart when he was hit with shrapnel from a nearby explosion. The hot metal drove itself into the knuckle of his pinky, which saved his life because had his hands not been over his heart, he probably would have died. As a little girl, I remember rubbing my fingers over the area that once had a knuckle and wondering where it had gone. Ironically, I always thought my friends’ fathers had strange looking hands- THEY were the ones who were different.
Interesting, the perspective of what is normal to a child when it comes to their parents.
Now, all these years later, I look at my dad’s hands and am overwhelmed with how much they’ve changed. No longer are they rough and work-ready, they’re thinner and baby soft. Time has taken their steadiness and strength and I hate it, but it’s been a reminder to me that while time may change their appearance, it can’t take away their giving nature. Although my dad is getting older, he’s still the same amazing man who threw me into the air as a little girl and put Chapstick on my boo-boos. I admit that I hate being the parent. I hate being the grownup in our relationship, and I know he hates it too because he’s a stubborn and ornery cuss with an occasional bad attitude who lets me know I’m not REALLY the boss. But as he heads into this new living arrangement, we’re going to accentuate the positive. He”ll have a new audience for his never ending supply of stories, and I’m sure more than a few ladies will want to get to know him. 😉 He’ll be well taken care of, and my kids will get a ton of new grandparents.
It’ll be fine, and he’ll do great. However, I admit that I’m feeling like I did when I sent my babies off to kindergarten, hoping he won’t get lost on the way to the cafeteria. Instead of lost retainers, I’m praying he won’t forget his dentures on his lunch tray.
If that happens, he’s on his own. I draw the line at going through garbage.