Today is the 15th of June, and my father is in a nursing home somewhere in south central Pennsylvania, and heís in the last stages of dementia.
I really wish you didnít live so far away. Iíd love to see you more often than distance allows.
But more importantly, I wish your mind was not so far away, either. Youíre a happy man, but itís the happiness of not knowing, the pleasant place that is bereft of having concerns or worries. If I walked into your little room you might very well not know who I am. Or why I was there.
We never did go hunting together, or fishing. But you threw a baseball to me for hours sometimes. And it was after work and if Iíd stopped to think about it, you were probably worn out and ready for a nice long sit on your chair. Thank you for that.
I donít recall ever hearing you raise your voice in anger toward the woman you loved, and still love. That was the sort of thing that not only would you not even consider, but would be amazed that other men might be so callous as to do it every day.
You birthed and raised 4 children and buried two more. The 4 of us gave you a heap of grandkids, and they all believe you to be the most incredible person ever. I used to hand you a small one, a new one, and the delight shining in your eyes Dad. The delight, and the knowing. I never tired of seeing that.
I guess there were times when I questioned you, or maybe questioned your reasoning. Iím sure there were plenty of chances for you to blow out a long breath of exasperation. Or a long string of profanity. But you never did. Not ever once.
Youíre still the very first person I think of when someone bemoans the lack of adults in this world. You were my first grown-up. You were the one. Thereís darn few of Ďem anymore.
There was a sweetness in the way you could swing a hammer. A touch for starting the nail then two or three quick blows. Itís a silly thing, noticing things like that. Remembering hands that could do such a simple chore and make it beautifully effortless.
There probably wasnít one thing in life that gave you more pleasure than reading. And if there was one gift you passed on to me it might be the love of words and the people who write them. If only I could give you a day, one day in your new world, it would be a day at the library with a stack of books and the ability to read them.
There wasnít very much that changed in this quiet life youíve had. Thereís only one possible change left for you, and it hurts to know that itís coming, and coming soon. Iím glad to know that youíre not in a dark place, or in pain. Iím glad for that. You might not know me if we bumped into each other in the hall, but it would be all right.
Iíd know you. My life is so rich with the knowing of you. And your hands.
Take very good care of yourself today, Dad.
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