Sometime in the future when I visit my Dad’s house in “the Villages,” it will be because he died. I don’t really expect that to be anytime soon. He’s pretty healthy at 77 and his mind is totally there. Physically he struggles a bit, but that’s because he spends most of his time in front of a television. A Schwinn exercise bike I bought him a few years ago is one of the things less active than Dad in the house. He tried to tell me he rides it, but I called BS on the claim, citing the overall weakness in his legs. “If you were riding that thing you wouldn’t walk like you’re 97,” I asserted. Kyle jumped to his Papa’s defense, but Dad didn’t debate me. So, with little activity and maybe even less will to live since his wife Caroline passed 3 years ago, Leo Joseph Daley still seems relatively healthy, but you just never know. Hey, he could visit my home for a similar reason. You never know.
I imagine I’ll get a call from Dad’s friend and neighbor, Dick Greene. Dick and his wife Kay live right across the street and are wonderful to Dad. They’re dragging him along to “Katie Belle’s” for Thanksgiving dinner next week. They do try to get him out of the house and they keep an eye on him for me. Sometimes Kay will drop me an email if she thinks I need to know something. Kay always types in all caps, but in person, she never shouts, and I’m not about to point our email etiquette to her. I just send her pictures of the grandkids and great-grandkids for Dad, and the occasional thank you note.
Sometimes I’m not the best at observing life around me. I think it’s an attention deficit thing. I’m not going to look it up, but I believe Matthew Broderick as Ferris Beuller said, “Life goes by pretty quickly. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while you might miss it.” The past couple days at Dad’s I looked around. I noticed things. Dad likes to use Styrofoam cups and paper plates. He’s got mugs, glasses and plates, but I just don’t think he likes doing dishes. He didn’t do any while Kyle and I were there. I also noticed the PUR water reservoir I got him is AWOL. In its place are cases of plastic water bottles, the kind made from petroleum. Again, I think he just doesn’t want to wash the glasses.
Dad hasn’t really changed anything in the house since Caroline died. Oh, a friend of hers removed all of her clothes and other personal belongings, but the décor of the house is exactly the same. Most of the prints are of Caroline’s choosing except the Degas “Jockeys” I gave Dad one Christmas. There are pictures of kids from Caroline’s side of the family in the cabinet surrounding the 27” TV. The people in those pictures don’t have any relationship with Dad. Actually, none of that family does, even those who live a few blocks away, but that’s mostly Dad’s choice, I think. As for the still faces in those frames, I believe the fading relics maintain a comforting presence of a past he still aches for. While looking for old pictures this morning as the younger and elder Daley boys slept, I opened the cabinet doors to find VHS tapes, pale yellow plastic flowers and a brown extension cord alone in a bottom cabinet. It too has nothing to do. Dad’s coffee table had the tin cased “Band of Brothers” DVD set I got him a few years ago. I forgot to ask him if he ever watched them.
There are a few things I’ll want including the gifts I’ve sent over the years and many of the photographs (I grabbed some sweet ones to scan and write about). There are even a couple monochrome wedding pictures from 1957. The photographer that day sucked, but I’ll keep them anyway. I’d also like the framed card and golf ball from Dad’s hole in one, but my brother Corey may want that. They played some golf together. Dad’s clubs are still in the garage, along with several pairs of nice golf shoes and dozens of used balls in egg cartons. I’m hoping Dad has a change of heart and decides to lose a few more of those.
Then my next trip down can be to play some golf with the old man.