Ah, yes He does. I realize this fact anew pretty much every day that I live, but on the days in which I am dealing with my Dad, I am reminded BIG TIME that God digs a good laugh. It's very odd the way the tables turn, when we suddenly find ourselves in the position of caring for parents who cared for us all our lives. They really do become like children again –the circle of life and all that, you know – only it feels very weird to parent your parent.
It feels especially weird where my Dad is concerned, because he was a parent way before "parent" became a verb. Oh don't get me wrong, he loved all seven of his kids. He just wasn't really a hands-on kinda dad. I suppose most men weren't in the 60s and 70s, were they? He went to work, travelled 99% of the time, and came home just long enough to undo all the strict parenting my Mom had done. Apparently he would come home long enough to get her pregnant again, too, then bug out, waiting to see in 9 or so months whether it was a "boy" or a "girl." You really have to work at it to father seven kids when you're never in town, I would imagine.
This story pretty much sums up my dad's role as a parent in our household: When the time came for my mother to give birth to me, my dad actually drove her to Piedmont Hospital, dropped her off and gave the attendant the phone number of a used car lot. He wanted someone to call the number to say whether I was a "boy" or a "girl." Touching, isn't it? When he hears that story, he laughs even today, kind of like, "Well, what can I say?" Come to think of it, I never got an explanation for the used car lot thing. Was it a mistake? A diversionary tactic? A way to buy a few hours' time at the office? Haha I guess I may never know.
My dad was always tall, big and strong. I know every kid thinks that, but he was. Still is, for a 91-year-old man. He's about 6'2" and 215 lbs. He lived alone in a big 5-BR house until about 3 years ago. He started taking nasty falls, not eating right…you know, all the red flags of aging. So my brother and I moved him to a wonderful, upscale retirement community in Duluth. He refers to himself and the other residents as "inmates"; the staff are "the officials." I don't think he particularly hates the place. I think he just hates that it's not his house, with his stuff, his car, his independence.
Be all this as it may, my dad has evolved into a gruff, grumpy, rude old codger. I love him, but I am also a realist. I took him to a couple of doctor appointments today. I walked alongside him; when one walks at the pace of a glacier, one can hurl quite a few insults at passersby without too much effort. He would speak; I would apologize. He insulted maintenance people, patients, nurses and even the doctor.
I have a terrible headache, and I feel sure my Dad is the cause of my ulcer that's in its infancy, but I can still appreciate the irony of it all. Thank you God, for taking the time to place a little humor in our lives, painful as it may seem at the time. I will probably really appreciate the humor in about 40 years, when my kids are enjoying the same type of quality time with their mom.