We never celebrated Father’s Day in my family (or Mother’s Day). We thought of them as “Hallmark Holidays”, invented to sell greeting cards. Besides, every day is Father’s Day, right? My widowed dad is 88, and getting frail, though, so there aren’t many more occasions to celebrate. I drove down to Niagara to Serenity Towers on a fine Sunday, and arrived a bit late due to construction on the QEW.
He’d been up for my scheduled arrival time, but couldn’t last the extra 10 minutes, and had gone back to his bed. He spends most of his time there. Youngest sister was waiting with him, patiently. These visits are breaks in my routine, for youngest sister, they ARE routine.
We shuffled off to the elevator and downstairs. Youngest sister wanted to show me dad’s latest acquisition – a scooter, the biggest and shiniest one in the scooter garage. He was renting it for $5 a day, and had been out on it once. Although large and safe, it looked to me to be a bit of a handful for an elderly man on a crowded sidewalk. It’s necessary, though, dad is far beyond driving his own car anymore.
Youngest sister says she has been out on one tour through a local park with dad on the scooter, and hopes to go out on more, but I have my doubts. This might be like his sailboat, his cabin cruiser and his chainsaw – wonderful to own, but seldom, if ever used.
We bundled into his car and youngest sister drove the short distance to a rib-joint in a strip mall that dad, unaccountably, likes. They have little glasses of beer, about as much as he can drink, and a child’s menu, which he can’t finish. The waitresses are good with him.
He is VERY frail, just a wisp of an old man. Where was the tall, arrogant, outgoing, overbearing man who bedeviled my attempts to connect with my father? Dad just sat there, smiling weakly, but happily, not taking anything in, watching youngest sister and I talk about politics and the Olympics without hearing anything or taking anything in. He seems happy to be out, happy to see us, but there’s not much there.
The only time he rouses himself to show any emotion is to complain at the loudness of a pair of motorcycles going by, at the deviltry of his insurance company in the Maritimes and at the exorbitant cost of a $2 glass of beer.
I’m buying a new boat, a big one. The kind of solid, honest North Sea motorsailer that dad used to sketch on restaurant placemats for us all the time. The kind of boat he always wanted to own. I take delivery just before his birthday in August. I want him to stay with us, mentally and in the flesh, until then, because I plan to motor over to Niagara and take him out for a cruise. It will probably be the last trip he takes, if we can even get him on the boat, but it will be worth it.
I hope he lasts until then.