I've thought for a long time about posting this. I think its the kind of thing I want to blog about. At the same time, its a difficult subject. But, I am trying to get what's in here out there.
My dad is 87 years old. I just turned 35. Do the math and you will see that I never knew him as a young man. When he used to go to primary school with me for events, all the other kids thought he was my grandfather. Today, I see a lot of older fathers, guys in their later 40s and 50s with little kids. But, in those days, in that part of the world (West Texas)--not so much.
My dad is old, and he is paralyzed. His legs are paralyzed from the knee down. That happened when I was not quite 2, and my little sister was a couple of months shy of being born. He was in a wheelchair for a long time, and on serious crutches, but eventually created leg braces that allowed him to walk with canes. He walked for many years, until he began to deteriorate. Now he stays in his condo, mostly. He hasn't driven for years now, and my mom takes care of him. He can get around the condo and take care of his own physical needs. He's just real slow at it.
I could write a lot about both of those things. Having a father who is quite a bit older than other fathers, and having a father who can't really move well. But, that's not what this is about.
My dad has always been very smart. He is an artist, an interior designer, a farmer, a business man, a landlord. I was brought up by him to value my mind above all else. Mind and creativity, and love. I guess travel and parties are in there, too, since he/we did a lot of that.
My dad recently completed a work of art. It took him months to do it. He used to have a number of studios, some were amazing. Now his studio is part of the garage at the condo. He has it all fixed up in a very creative way. I was there a few weeks ago, and I brought my children. We hadn't seen him in a long time. He showed us his new work of art. He talked about it. Over and over, really. The kids and I went on and on about this masterpiece.
He and I had a long conversation, three hours or so. It was nice and hard and sad. We talked about a few things, but he kept repeating himself, coming back again and again. We talked about his oncoming blindness, about his arthritis which has bent and locked his artistic hands into strange claws. We talked about our home back in Amarillo, and all the people he once knew.
A week later, I was on the phone with him (which is difficult because his hearing is not good at all). He told me he had created a new work of art, and wanted me to see it. He had been working on it for months. He wanted me to come up and visit, since it had been so long since he had seen me. And maybe I could bring the kids, since he was sure they must have grown so much.
When I told him I had seen his new piece seven days ago, and that I had been there with the kids, and that we had sat and talked for a long time on the couch, he said "oh, right, of course, sure . . . I just meant I want to see you again."
I know he didn't remember. I do hope it comes again to his mind from time to time. I hope the next time I see him he will remember it once I leave. I hope he knows that I love him. I think he does.