Daily Archives: June 13, 2007

A drive in the country

Today we’d planned on picking up Dean’s mom and taking a drive in the country. Because Ruth was not feeling well we just visited with her for an hour and then went on the drive ourselves.

Riding with my dad in the car reminds me of when we’d take his mother on drives along the same roads 40 years ago or more. She always told us who’d lived in each of the homes along the way – and was distressed if it looked like a home she’d lived in looked uncared for.

We had a mission – we were delivering flowers to my Grandmother and Grandfather Patrick and to my cousin Jim. Dad thought Jim would like blue flowers. We got Grandma Patrick some white ones. I like the cemetery where they are buried. It is quiet and small. They are surrounded by fellow farmers – some of whom were born in the later part of the 1700’s. I asked dad if he had a cemetery plot. He said he didn’t and didn’t want to talk about it. Funny – he spends a lot of his time talking about the dead. Those who’ve passed recently and those who’ve been gone for decades.

After the cemetery he wanted to drive past the last farm his father owned. The farm he could easily have inherited. He’s obviously somewhat regretful that he chose a different path in life – one that didn’t include farming.

We continued our drive, and then dad thought I’d like to visit mom’s friend Jill and her husband, Gordon. They are quite interesting. He does something technical (writes code for software?) for a living as well as helps Jill raise alpacas. Jill also creates hats and slippers from the alpaca wool. She showed me her creations. I would have bought a hat, but I look awful in hats. Maybe later this summer when we visit again I’ll buy a pair of slippers. Clare might like a hat.

The have A LOT of alpacas. At least 20. And they are beautiful. Two were just recently born – one was born on June 6th of this year. The mother stood next to the baby and chattered to her when we first got there. Cindy said it was because we were strangers. Whatever it was – it was so cool. Makes up for me missing the balloon fest on Saturday.

Dad got tired and I could tell he wanted to go home, so we left. He went to bed and I walked to a nearby restaurant for an Italian Beef sandwich – something I cannot get in Maryland unless I make it myself.

On the way to Paul’s I passed by a cacophony of memories.

  • The house that once was the huge pile of dirt where I would practice my Hollywood falls.
  • The house where the woman who sold me the cookbook told me she was living on borrowed time
  • The house where the mean old man lived who made beautiful Christmas decorations
  • Stephanie’s house, that once burned nearly to the ground, but the cats were found safely.
  • Paul’s parking lot, that once was The Red Barn, a fast food chicken restaurant. My dad didn’t like eating there because he swore they served fried pigeon.

On the way back I passed the five homes that were built as affordable housing. They still look like projects, but I noticed that the owners have tried to make them attractive. One house has a beautiful door with beveled diamond-shaped glass panes. Another has mansion style (and sized) pillars on either side of the driveway which leads to a carport.

This lot used to house a huge Victorian mansion. On the side was a mulberry bush that, as kids, we would pick and eat the fruit until we felt sick. That mulberry bush is long gone, but I saw evidence of mulberries on the property. I’ll let myself believe the bushes I know are still there, are distant offspring of the mulberry tree I remember.

Dad – Day ?

It’s well known that I become nearly catatonic when visiting my family. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but I do tend to become much less active. It is an effort to do anything or visit anyone. I don’t know why this happens, but it is probably a temporary depression. Suddenly all the issues from my past, present and future gang up and hold me down.

This trip is not much different in that regards. I spend much of the day in the attic bedroom my father refinished for me when I was a teenager. It is cosy and doesn’t stink (especially after I rolled up the carpet that I suspet my mom’s cat has been using as a toilet for several years).

I’ve been putting in an average of 4 hours work a day in between cooking and taking dad on car rides. I’ve not taken him to a restaurant – he doesn’t always behave himself in public. He wanted to go to a local tavern for “burgers” yesterday for lunch, but when I told him he could not have a beer he yelled, “Well, let’s just not go then.” Fine with me.

I’ve burst into tears twice – not in front of dad, but because of him. Not because he said anything, but because I feel so bad and helpless about his condition. I’d been reluctant to go into his bedroom, afraid of the filth I might see, knowing the stench was unbearable when he opened the door. I was surprised to see the room was tidy, but the smell of his unwashed body was gag-producing. I couldn’t help the tears that came after being in his room.

The second time was last night. He’d gone to bed around 4 or so, so I spent the afternoon and evening getting more work done. Then around 8 I watched some “on demand” videos from Netflix. I went downstairs to get some water and smelled after shave. I thought perhaps the neighbor had put on too much cologne and it was wafting into my bedroom window. I heard noises coming from the second bathroom in the basement, and realized Dad was down by the washing machine. I didn’t want him to see me, thinking he might have had an accident and was trying to wash his sheets. I hid and waited for him to go upstairs. After he had gone I went into the laundry room and saw evidence that he’d taken a shower. There were several towels on the washing machine and the carpet was covered in several footprints of white powder (he always liked to sprinkle himself with shower-to-shower powder after a shower). So once again I burst into tears. He took a shower without being reminded. It was clear he was trying to please me and all I could do was hide from him and feel sorry for myself.

It is so hard to think that he actually is not being this way on purpose. It would feel better if I thought he could quit and start being normal again.