My father is turning 88 years old on Friday July 27th. As I reflect on his life I can only say that he has been the most resilient of all his good friends. I say that because most of his good friends have now passed on. He has also outlived all his brothers. I say this not to brag but to just state the facts. My father’s mother lived to the great age of 93! I just wonder how long God will allow us to have him around. When people ask me how he’s doing, my first reaction is, “why don’t you go see him?” I would say it with a smile but it also has a cutting seriousness. As someone who goes to nursing homes I see the loneliness of so many people who have been storehoused. Out of sight, out of mind. Even I have to remember that he is there and it’s not going to kill me to pop in for a few minutes.
It’s just like I call my mother every day. sometimes twice a day. When I have told people this they say “WHY?” and I always reply, “because I can!” The only redeeming fact I can rely on is that my dad gets excellent care by a hard working staff. That is a difficult vocation and if you do not love the elderly then maybe you shouldn’t work there. I always teasingly say that I speak “senior citizen.” There is an honest truth to that. Sometimes our aged loved ones don’t always grasp concepts and it requires extra time and patience to reassure our beloved’s that all is well.
On Saturday I am having a birthday party for him. Sister Sue is driving down from Minneapolis to be here. I’ve invited dad’s sisters and have tried to get the word out to the cousins. It will be a simple celebration. I made some taco meat and fried some tostada shells. We’ll probably have the staples of beans and rice; the usual! Our simple ancestral foods that never cease to delight us. We will create a memory and it will give papa a chance to bust out of the home. It will be some simple down time. Time to smile, relax and be with one another while we are still here. There will be a day when even those present will only be a memory. Happy Birthday Papa! I love you!