Back home, that is. You see, three days ago I put my Dad back on the plane to England after his five week stay. He comes over every year for a month or so in order to see the Grand kids, celebrate their birthdays and celebrate the fourth of July. When my Mum was alive, they would come for six to eight weeks, but since she passed, he has found that five weeks is about as much as he can handle. I can’t say I blame him, because for a man his age and so set in his routine, being away from home for so long is a little on the disruptive side.
As usual, I was waiting for him at the top of the escalator at the airport and we were soon on the way home, him regaling me with the story of his trip over, talking to a South African IT specialist and a Swiss cruise line employee. I had to endure this story about 12 times by the time he departed, but that is about the norm nowadays. Of course, brought me up to date on events back in the old country, such as who had died, who had moved, what had happened to individuals etc. Not vitally important news, but still, it was nice to hear the small stuff.
He is very conscious that his presence causes some domestic disruption: My previous house had three bedrooms, my last marital home had four, so a spare room for him ( and back in the day, my mother) was never an issue. Last year he had the kid’s room when they weren’t here, and mine when they were. That was a lot of shuffling around, so this year I made an executive decision and gave him my room for the duration of his stay. he wasn’t too happy about this, as he doesn’t like to “Put me out”, but I explained to him that I sleep on the Futon when the kids are here, so this was really no different. Heck, that’s why I spent quite a lot of money on a really comfortable Futon.
I must admit, however, that by the time he left, I was ready to sleep upstairs again. There would have been a time when not having slept in my own bed for over a month would be a source of pride, but at my age, it just means waking up in the living room. Ah well.
He’s easy to please, and just as eager to help. He insisted on us eating out a lot, to avoid the need for me to cook, but I have to admit it got a bit much by the end, especially as I gained ten pounds during his stay. The daily drinking didn’t help, either, but seeing as we’re English, what do you expect?
One thing that stood out was his relationship with the kids. Last year, my daughter was often a bit distant, but this year she was all over him, being very affectionate and joking with him. It’s great to see them so close, especially as I know how much my Mum would have doted on her. One of my greatest regrets is that my Mum didn’t live to see what an incredible young woman my daughter has become.
My son seems to have developed a double act with Dad. The techno kid and the technophobe get on like a house on fire. Dad is full of daft jokes and comments, to which my son replies “Oh, just go away”, in a laughing affectionate way that shows how much he has matured, and how much he loves his Grandpa.
We didn’t really do much travelling, apart from a couple of long trips into the boonies to watch my daughter’s All Star softball team in the district finals. They lost two out of three, but at least Dad was at last able to see her play. Of course, he was very shaky on the rules, but soon picked it up and got into the swing of it. We took a couple of day trips, but by and large he was happy just to spend time at home with the kids.
Of course, as the trip drew to a close his conversation became more maudlin. He is nearly 30 years further down the conveyor belt than I am, so he spends quite a lot of time thinking about what will happen when he dies (See “My Death” for my take on this subject). He’s in good health, despite his diabetes, so he could easily live another 10 years, but how long he will be fit enough to fly over here remains to be seen.
I may well have said this before, but since I the kids arrived, I’ve developed a deeper understanding and respect for my Dad. I now understand just how much he put himself last when it came to providing for his family. My Mum too, of course, and now as adults on the downslope we get on much better than we used to. I was sad to see him go, of course, but in a way I’m glad to get my house back and to return to something approaching normality. as indeed is my poor liver. I can soon grow a new one, can’t I? I hope so.
As for my digestive system, it’s a diet of lettuce leaves and grated carrot for the next three months. Every meal. Dad’s next visit is only a year away, so I’d better start getting into shape now.