Sunday, January 15, 2012
Ever have a day that you wish would never come to an end? Today was one of those days for me. It's not that the day was packed with things out of the ordinary to see and do; it was more of a feeling.
A little after 9am, my brother drove to my house to pick my father and I up for breakfast. Generally there is a huge family crowd that goes out to breakfast but this morning it was just the three of us. My father sat in the booth across from my brother and myself which was kind of odd since my brother likes to sit by himself on his side of the booth. The three of us sat, ate and enjoyed each other's company.
I don't know if my brother is having a difficult time with my father's age as of late but he keeps repeating, "I can't believe he's 80." It is a difficult concept to grasp when the man who is 80 is doing as much for you now as when you were a child; or at least you think he is.
After breakfast, my brother dropped us off at home with a quick, "I'll see you guys later at dinner." We both waved goodbye to him as he drove off; the snow crunching beneath his tires as he drove off.
I grabbed my father's arm so he... I mean I... wouldn't slip on the sidewalk. The pace was steady but slower than it was years ago. I didn't mind the slow pace, but I knew that it bothered him. Lately, he's been telling me a little too often how he is "feeling his age." He keeps telling me that he thinks he's a little less sure-footed when walking. Today, I made a point of telling him that he had to walk me to the house because I was afraid I was going to slip and fall.
When we entered the house we were greeted by our three dogs; each of them vying for the immediate attention of my father. The dogs have been my father's earthly salvation, bringing him out of the depths of depression after my mother died. I fondly tell my father often, "If I would have known that all it took to make you nice was to get a few dogs, I'd have done it years ago." We both laugh, but we both know that those dogs have done for him what no other human being was able to do. The gave him back his reason to live. My father spent years taking care of my mother and when she died he didn't feel needed anymore. The dogs need him.
After playing with the "pups" as he calls them, he went to his room for a little nap; the two small dogs curling up in their beds situated on the floor beside his bed. I puttered around the house not doing anything important.
I woke him up about an hour before the big "birthday dinner" to get dressed. "Well woman, go get me my tuxedo to wear." I rolled my eyes at him as I trotted off to get his "good clothes" to wear. Ok, I have to tell you that if I don't hide his good clothes from him he'll wear them to fix the car, work in the garage, paint the house or whatever strikes his fancy at the time. I have learned that I have save a few good things for him to wear because if I don't, when we have to go somewhere nice, he doesn't have a thing to wear.
Dinner was good, the conversation was pleasant, and the company was great. Dad sat at the head of the table like a king; the only thing missing was the crown. (It was invisible so only the family could see it.) After dinner we made our way to my brother's house for cake and ice cream. My sister-in-law had the house decorated with balloons and streamers and signs that wished him a happy birthday. His four grandchildren surrounded him as we sang happy birthday; the 80 candles (yes 80) melting into the cake.
After dishing out the cake and ice cream, my father opened up his gifts. Most of his gifts had a New York Yankees theme; after all what do you buy a man who has everything he wants and tells you he doesn't want any gifts? I broke the theme and had a t-shirt made with a picture of his dogs on the front. I think he liked it.
Soon the festivities were over and it was time for us to go home. Once again as he and I walked in the snow I grabbed him arm so he could help me in the house. As we walked into the house he said, "You know, I don't want to be President, the days are too long." I didn't say anything, I just smirked.
He took off his coat and flung it over the dining room chair. He grabbed two hot dogs from the refrigerator and microwaved them. He gave our big dog a pat on the head and scratched behind his ear. He took the hot dogs back to his bedroom so he could give the two smaller dogs their evening treat. "That's life big boy and big girl," he said to the dogs. "That is life." I'm not sure what he meant and I was too afraid to ask.
When I finally got myself all settled down and started to take his presents back to his room he was sleeping in his bed. He was still in his "tuxedo" and he was sound asleep. I watched his breathing for a little while and then I shut his door; still holding most of his presents in my arms.