GBE 2: Blog On
#65 Two Perspectives
“Speak up, quit mumbling.” My Dad grumbles as he squints at me. “If you wouldn’t talk so low while standing across the room, I could hear what you have to say.” I’m in Florida for a short vacation to check up on the folks.
I can see their health has declined somewhat from the year before. I clean their house as much as I can without offending them. I can see the cobwebs….I’m pretty certain they can’t.
He refuses to consider hearing aids since those are for old people. At 84 years old, he walks the boardwalk at Dania Beach, Florida, weather permitting, on a daily basis. On the real sunny days, he takes off his shirt, puffs up his chest and struts. This diminutive Irishman with the startling blue eyes is certain his is all that and a bag of chips too! He wears his speed-o around us kids…the thong comes out the moment we leave…..
Dad tells us, his four remaining children, that he walks six miles, but we all know it’s about 1 ½ miles. Dad tells us he swims daily as well. I haven’t seen it.
“Those Goddamn kids are riding their bikes on the walk path again. There is never a patrolman around when you want them, probably sitting in some coffee shop.” His face gets a little scrunchy and turns a little red with ire. “One of these days those Goddamn kids are gonna run someone over, then maybe those patrolmen will be where they are supposed to be. I hope one of them falls and breaks their neck! There won’t be any of these Goddamn kids when we get back to Michigan, not on a dirt road.” Dad seems to bluster even more than normal.
Mom and Dad hit Michigan on an annual vacation, they stay two weeks. Their vacation is typically the last week of July and the first week of August. We, the kids and grandkids, take turns with our visits so we don’t overwhelm them. They become fatigued quickly with all of their company.
My turn to visit was the first weekend of Mom and Dad’s visit to Michigan. My younger brother, Scott, was staying with them for their visit. The folks simply cannot maneuver the stairs to get to the basement, for laundry. Of course Scott hid out there whenever he had enough blustering from the Folks, too.
Mom stayed inside, sitting on the couch in the living room, nose pressed in her Word Search booklet. She said she enjoys hearing the fun going on outside but doesn’t really want to participate. Her face is showing a whole lot more of her “character”. She tells me she has gained five pounds. I tell her, that gaining weight is a sign of life. Only the sick and dying actually lose weight without trying. We smile a knowing smile.
Dad has lost another ten pounds since I last saw him. He walks a little more hunched over. He is trying to join in the fun and walks down the steep steps to the lake. Jumping in off the dock rather than diving, he is a mere four feet from the ladder. Dad is struggling and cannot lift his arms to swim the crawl. Scott, standing at the ready, tells him to do the breast stroke. Struggling, Dad makes it to the ladder in what seems like an extraordinarily long time. Scott and I exchange looks. Dad sits on a deck chair for a while to catch his breath. We watch as he drags himself back up the stairs to the house.
Laying on the hammock, my Dad sleeps for the next four hours. He doesn’t bluster the rest of the day.
We, the four remaining children, meet to have a conversation about the folks. As much as he blusters and she refrains from interacting with others, we know their time is short. With or without hearing aids, they have grown old.