Dad in his younger days.
Last year Dad sent me all sorts of old photos of his family. These two pictures above I lovingly keep in the kitchen window sill. His high school photo, which sat on my Grandmother’s coffee table up until her death almost three years ago, sits in my living room. When I glance at these pictures I can now see my Dad as a little boy. Not just from the images in the frame, but oddly enough I have a strange sense of what he was like as a child now.
When we are born, our parent’s childhood always seems like somewhat of a mystery. Once we are old enough to grasp the concept that our parents too, started off as children, it’s hard to really picture. Sure, we have these great black and white photos which offer a slight glimpse into their early lives but there’s only so much we can comprehend. It hit me recently that I got it. At least I think I do.
As I’ve written before, my Dad was always this larger than life being. He could fix anything, had a loud booming voice that often times even scared the family dog, and in my childhood eyes was only second to Superman. Over the past few months I’ve grown to see Dad as the person in the pictures on my windowsill. The vulnerable child still needing guidance during his days. My last trip to Boston opened my eyes to that realization. It is a gift, one I never had the concept I’d ever receive.
The Hero pill dispenser finally arrived at Sister 2’s house a week ago. Sister 2 set it up this past Saturday. Up until then Sisters 1 and 2, and myself have taken turns calling Dad to remind him to take his medication. I have been skeptical about this dispenser being a viable option. We have still had to call Dad to ensure everything is working smoothly. If we call even a few minutes late, he has no recollection of taking his medication. Is it working? I have no idea. Yesterday I called and he told he had taken apart a gel cap. Why he did this, I have no idea. He told me with his Parkinson’s that it took him a half hour to do. The insides, according to him, resembled coffee grounds. I spoke with Sister 2, who lives the closest to him, and she said it sounded like one of his vitamins.
There are days I talk to Dad and he is completely lucid. Other days he has developed conspiracy theories and thinks that I’m some sort of government spy. He’s never told me this but Sisters 1 and 2 have ensured me its been brought up several times. Sometimes Dad is happy and joking. Other days he calls crying, which breaks my heart. Somedays I think he is just lonely. Recently he called Sister 2 in a complete panic. He was concerned about an outhouse exploding.
Years ago Dad and his older brother had a running joke that they pushed my Grandfather over in an outhouse. It was years before it was revealed that this was only a joke and never really happened. Sometimes I think about how Dad’s brain must work and have deduced that he is afraid.
Earlier this week Dad called to say that I could live in his basement, something I hadn’t completely thought of for good reason. There are no windows in the basement. I’d be completely in the dark. It actually sounded pretty funny when I thought about it. 50 something years old and living in my Dad’s basement. Hilarious. I told Dad we would figure it out when I arrived.
This weekend I will fly back to Boston to live with Dad. My job gave me special permission to take my computer equipment to work from Dad’s. This will be the longest I’ve ever been away from Jayel since we met well over two years ago. We’ve spent lots of time together over the past couple of weeks. We rode our motorcycles one Sunday morning and went sailing on a local lake with friends this past weekend. Over lunch the other day I asked what I would do without him. It will be an adjustment for sure.
It seems so foreign but something I’ve gotten used to is having a partner who shares everything with me. Years ago I read a book that took place during the Salem Witch Trials. A husband was defending his jailed wife and he referred to her as his help-meet. Help-meet. My gosh, that is exactly it. I had gotten so used to doing things on my own, even when I was married I seem to operate independently. Jayel can make grocery shopping fun. His presence in even the most mundane and menial of things makes everything seem extra worth it. I often wonder why it took so long for us to meet but maybe I had to be ready to accept someone as special as him.
Jayel will fly back to Boston with me this weekend. He will stay for a few days and help get things set up with the computer. I’m hoping to show him around a little bit during his brief stay. Jayel and Dad have never met. It will be neat to have the first man I ever loved and the last man I hope to ever love under the same roof. Over the past few weeks I’ve wondered if I could do this. I’m working full time, am a college student (again) and am now taking care of Dad. But there’s no questioning, no wondering. Just doing. Just moving forward and taking each day as it comes. It reminds me of what we would yell as kids after counting to ten before a game of Hide and Seek. “Ready or not, here I come.” I hear this in my mind. And it is Dad’s childhood voice I hear it in.