Today I realized I haven’t been up here (Ridley Park) to see my dad in eighteen months! Far too long. He’s not a traveler, so I’m the one who makes the journey.
I flew up from Florida early in the morning, got a much nicer rental car than I expected, and stepped back in time, into a hometown that in some ways hasn’t changed all that much in decades. After a cup of coffee with dad, I wanted to help him with some yard work in the cooler hours of a beautiful spring day. The lawn hadn’t yet been cut this year, and after some generous spring rains, was two feet tall in some places on the hill. Yikes. A great hill for sledding in the winter, but a feat to mow under normal conditions. I set the mower up as high as it could go, and it powerfully threshed the yard on the first pass, and manicured the lawn on the second, normal setting. Not to be outdone, dad trimmed.
As I mowed, I noticed what looked like little strawberries all over the bottom part of the yard. I had never seen them before. Sure enough, after a little research, I learned that they are a wild strawberry weed that is very common in this area, and tough to get rid of. No wildlife seems to want them, so I guess they are destined to be a part of the yard. I vividly remember playing hours and hours of run the bases, pitcher/catcher and infield practice when we were growing up. Our own little stadium.
After a quick sandwich for lunch, I accompanied my dad to his afternoon doctor’s appointment, where I learned that he is still in very good health at eighty-nine. A little forgetful and not as ambitious as he used to be, he’s doing OK. The doctor’s encouragement when I mentioned we were thinking about dad moving in with or near my brother was welcome support as we take the initial steps towards that transition.
Since there really wasn’t too much food in the house other than frozen meals and expired hamburger, we picked up a few things at the grocery store so I could cook a few meals. Salmon, salad and roasted potatoes last night, un-expired hamburger, etc. for tonight. He doesn’t have a grill. I grill everything at home. I guess I’ll get by with a frying pan.
We watched some of the Phillies game after supper, but I didn’t last very long since I had gotten up at 3:30 am to get to the airport.
Coming to visit my dad is a cross between stepping into a time capsule and a museum. Same dining room table and chairs as when I was growing up. Lots of pictures of my mom on the walls, some from her 20’s and some from her 60’s. Same pots and pans in the kitchen. An archive of our growing-up years in photos and mementoes.
Going down into my day’s basement workshop is like going to a hardware store. He’s got just about every power tool, nail and wrench you can imagine. He’s still got his dad’s tools and tool box, no doubt antiques by now.
From now till when I leave, I need to make sure he stays on top of his bills (he hasn’t). But I need to do so in a way that doesn’t make him feel like I’m getting into his business, even though we are. Walking a tightrope, indeed.