Thursday, August 09, 2007

If you're female, single and over 50 - watch out for this guy.

My dad was just here for a week and it went pretty well. I took care of him and he lapped it up. (Glenn enjoys being mothered.) Other than having meals and dishes done for him, he seemed to have a nice time, but it’s hard to tell. He doesn’t really like children and we have a couple.  He seemed to manage, although at times I felt as if this trip to visit his daughter was somewhat of an interruption in his fairly full life.

People often ask me, in a very concerned way, “How is he doing?” – in reference to the fact that he is a widower. I always say, “Great!” because he is. He seems more energetic than ever. He plays golf often and walks 2 miles about four days a week. He is 78, but seems younger. Not youthful – he definitely has fuddy-duddy tendencies and would NEVER be referred to as “hip”, “trendy” or “cool” - but he is aware of world happenings. For example, he hears about Lindsay Lohan occasionally while watching Fox News (his favorite news source) and now actually knows who she is after watching “Parent Trap” in the back of my brother’s minivan on the way to a family reunion two weeks ago. And when we took him to Sundance to see the home of Robert Redford’s acting studio/institute, he was able to reference it as “…near the place that Lindsay Lohan is in rehab now.”

He’s also been dating on a frequent basis. Watching my father navigate the dating scene at 78 is about as fun as watching someone in traffic pick their nose when you’re all stopped at a red light. I cringe, look away, feel a little nauseous, but eventually have to turn back and take another glance.

Ok, it’s not that bad, but it is pretty disgusting. He has a few “singles” groups that he gets together with while he’s in Minnesota for the summers. One of them is a spin off of the grief group that he went to for about six months after my mom died. He didn’t use the group for therapy – no, it was totally about the chicks. His friend found his second wife through the same group, so my dad thought he’d have the same luck. Now the grief group has formed a spin-off group. He claims that the “‘…grief group is just too ‘grief-y.’” Wow, it’s hard to believe that people would actually attend the group strictly for the purpose of finding solace or comfort. No, Glenn attended to find a cook or housekeeper.

While he was visiting I daily created activities or outings for the four of us. The kids and I took him to IKEA one afternoon and bought some storage units for their bedroom. He took the whole purchase very seriously and helped me determine colors and size almost as well as Mom used to. When we got home, he and Harrison put the units together and for a second I think he actually thought Harry was okay – instead of just the whiny, annoying, misbehaving gnat that he usually thinks of him. Well, maybe my dad doesn’t dislike Harrison that much, but he certainly doesn’t go out of his way to bond with his grandchildren. He “tolerates” and “cohabitates”, more than “enjoys” or “engages with” them. This hurts me at times, but I have grown too old to get seriously irritated with him. He has always been this way, and the fact that he is now starting to become much more self-aware (dating does that to you), I am encouraged. Encouraged that he can look beyond himself and see that there may be other ways to live life.

Don’t get me wrong. The man is incredibly intelligent. He knows a little about everything, and a lot about most things. That said, he chooses to disagree with most of it. He has a very FoxNewsPresident BushTheOldDaysWereGreat perspective on life. It makes it hard to have long debates with him. Everything inevitably gets back to Iraq and those “damn” Muslims. As an educator, you can probably guess that we have opposing views on almost everything.
Sending him off yesterday I felt okay. I don’t think I’ll worry about him as much as I have the last 19 months. He is definitely figuring out how to be alone. He would love to have some permanent company, but if he doesn’t find anyone I know he’ll be fine. He is comfortable with himself. Still willing to learn and change, but content with himself and the life he has created on his own. He actually feels blessed that he has had such a nice life. He often says that he didn’t deserve it. I think he did.

5 comments:

Sharkey said...

This is a really great post, Carol. And I like the photo of your dad.

Karen C. said...

Carol,

Thought provoking...

Had my 78 year old father not fallen and injured his brain a year ago, what you describe could be my dad....

Life happens. I get it.

Kbreints said...

What an amazing post! you really wrote that well--

B.E.C.K. said...

This is beautiful -- esp. the last three sentences.

Meg said...

My buddy, Glenn, looks well! Once again you totally cracked me up (how did you think of the nose-picker at the light???) and made me think! Old age scares me!!!