|Dad and grandson|
Dad still lives in the home we kids grew up in, in New England, purchased in 1946. He and Mom met in 1945, raised four kids, and had a good decade of retirement, traveling round the country in their camper. Mom's blindness and Alzheimer's settled in thereafter, and she died at home in 2000, after years of care by her husband, three daughters and part time care giver. As sweet a man as Mom was nasty, Dad sprang back to life after she died. We were thrilled. Never one to go abroad before, he got his first passport at age 89, and went to Norway with an old sweetheart. Since then, a few sweethearts have come and gone. To heaven. The family keeps a keen eye on his current young sweetheart and chauffeurs him on his dates.
|Dad on the left|
Dad drove until a few years ago. It was only when he nicked a skateboarder that he had his license revoked. After that, he refused to take a bus. Yes, his body and mind were working, but he was very stubborn. So my sister became his driver. Shortly after something landed him in the hospital, a first for him. Nothing a catheter couldn't solve, but living in his house from now on? That would take intensive effort. He was weakened, sure, but the house was in much worse shape than him. Goodwill furniture, paintings, lamps, radios, phonographs, records, rugs, exercise machines, clocks, flashlights, microwave ovens, lawn movers, pants, shirts, shoes, and books, thousands of books, filled every living space. He would steady himself by grabbing onto the furniture as he walked from room to room. Plastic hung over the secretary and stacks of books because the ceiling leaked beside his bed. He had buckets strategically placed. My brother volunteered to come live with him, and now his wife has joined him. I'm nominating them for sainthood. The house is becoming habitable again, safe for him, workable for them. Change is hard.
Dad couldn't live 'independently' without my brother and his wife, my oldest sister and her husband. Stubborn and happy, my Dad pursues his interests, and we keep him safe. Dad's eyes, ears, strength, and keen mind are rolling into history, but his heart keeps ticking. This winter he got a pacemaker. No, Dad hasn't outlived his joy, his curiosity, and even the infuriating bees he gets in his bonnet.
Celebrations like last weekend's remind me why we love our families. Where else would we learn how to get along despite frustrations, disagreements, and unintended consequences when different personalities rub shoulders? Nothing but love and hard work see us through.
|Dad, his son, son-in-law, and two of his three daughters|