Admittedly, I 1)pitched a bit of a fit when my dad informed me he was driving down to 2)Texas from 3)Kansas! He’d not made the journey by himself for two years. But, with his new knee and a few minor health problems under control, he was back in charge at the age of 88 and darned proud of his independence.
“Dad, I’ll just have a 4)pow-wow with Jerry and Marland and see what they think about you driving. I’ll let you know what we decide.”
“Well, you guys just pow-wow on! I’ll call when I know what day I’m coming.” That was it. End of conversation! He hung up the phone.
My husband, Jerry, and elder brother, Marland, didn’t like the idea much more than I did, but what do you do? Our pow-wow was a pitiful failure. Dad’s driver’s license had just been renewed, and he had a brand-new reliable car. Short of 5)hogtying him, there was nothing to do but wait, wonder, and pray. We lost and Dad won another round.
The phone call finally came.
“I’ll be coming on Wednesday or Thursday. I’m expecting a bill and want to get it paid before I leave.”
“Just let me know which day it is, so I’ll know when to start worrying.” I made it sound 6)light-hearted, but I was dead serious.
On the other hand, Dad thought it was 7)hysterical and nearly broke my eardrum.
The highlight of Dad’s trip was a few days at 8)The High Lonesome Ranch. He’s hunted all sorts of game, in numerous states, but he 9)blind-sided us when he announced his need to hunt down a wild hog. Again, what do you do?
You hustle to make plans, and thank your lucky stars that an aging father is still able to enjoy life and tackle new adventures. After the excitement of the hunt, I was concerned that the rest of his visit might seem a 10)tad on the 11)tame side—two 12)solid weeks of being stuck in the big city!
But, we wrestled a couple of 13)jigsaw puzzles—a great way to stay busy and visit at the same time. He told wonderful stories of his childhood as we stewed, and I hung on to each word as if I might never hear them again.
After about a week, we shopped for a new suit, found one, and he looked especially handsome as he modeled it. Driving away from the mall he announced, “This won’t get much wear except to church, and the last time I wear it I won’t ever have to change clothes again.” It took me a minute to grasp what he was saying. “Oh, Dad! If I’d known we were looking for 14)burial attire, I wouldn’t even have taken you shopping.” He simply laughed at me and his blue eyes danced with 15)mischief.
I let some things 16)slide around the house in order to savor every moment of our time together. Evidently Dad noticed! One day, as I ran a few crucial 17)errands, he cleaned all the tile floors while I was gone. I was humiliated! Within the hour, one of the dogs deposited a piece of dead grass on “his” sparkling floor and he spied it in a flash. “How the 18)heck did I miss that?” he questioned with a frustrated 19)scowl.
All too soon it was time for the visit to end. Dad’s car was packed, hog meat and all, and he was heading home.
“I love you, Dad. I hope you weren’t bored. I don’t feel like we did anything very special while you were here. At least, nothing that could compare with your hunting trip.”
Dad held on tight and 20)stroked my back as we said goodbye. The past few years we both seemed to hang on a little bit longer each time we part. Dad squeezed me a little tighter and his voice cracked, “Every single minute we were together was special.”
I pulled back slightly to see tears in his eyes and his chin quivering. It’s a sight seldom seen from a man that still envisions himself as 21)John Wayne.
“You’re right. Nothing is more special than our time together.” I was batting back tears, hoping he wouldn’t spot them. Feeling the need to lighten things up, I jokingly said, “You call us as soon as you get home, so I’ll know when I can stop worrying!”
“Yeah, yeah! You need to quit all that worrying. Don’t you know, it’ll make an old woman out of you.” With that, he climbed in the car, waved, and drove away, just as the sun made a spectacular appearance.
It made for a perfect, sunny 22)finale to our “special time” together.