My Friend Dad

My dad is pretty amazing. He’s 86. He’s a cancer survivor, he’s had a double bypass and last Spring he lost his beloved wife, my beautiful mother, after a ten year bout with Alzheimer’s. And yet Dad signs up for creative writing classes, joins in world event discussion meetings, he always looks nice and keeps a sense of humor. He is passionate about animals and the environment, and I have been happily designated his travel buddy.

Still, he gets restless and blue when he stays put too long. He says the heartbreaking phrase, “I feel like I’m just sitting around waiting to die.”
That’s my cue. “Okay Dad, it’s time for another adventure.” And whether it’s a car, plane or boat, off we go.

We make great travel buddies. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from both my parents, is that everything is an adventure if you treat it as such. Whether you’re walking in a nearby park or sailing the seven seas, it’s all about the “Can Do” spirit, and finding joy in the little things.

During one of my engagements as a cruise ship entertainer, I brought my Dad, and we sailed together from Florida to Peru. We signed up for every excursion we could squeeze in!

One of my fondest memories was in Guatemala, where a Panama hat caught my dad’s eye. He placed it on his head with a chuckle and boy did he look handsome! Though well into his 80’s, all the ladies young and old commented on the dapper man on my arm.

Each night on the ship we would have a fine dinner, sitting with new friends from around the globe. Everyone enjoyed Dad’s company—as a matter of fact, he truly became somewhat of a celebrity while aboard! I would have to excuse myself at dessert and go to the piano bar to begin my three hour shift of taking requests. I would always say, “Dad, Will you be okay by yourself for a bit?” And everyone at the table would promise he’d be in good hands.
After his table-mates left, Dad would come to my show, order one snifter of brandy, and listen to every song until I had played my last note. Not a night would go by that someone wouldn’t come shake his hand, pat his shoulder or stop for a delightful chat.

Dad would request all the songs I grew up with—Impossible Dream being my favorite. That song will always and forever remind me of my dad, whose every “Impossible Dream” was made a reality by his hard work, an iron will and a “Just keep walking forward” mentality.

Sometimes Dad and I just go to the lake park a few miles away, and look at the whimsical variety of water birds and turtles. Animals always put a smile on Dad’s face. Sometimes it’s as simple as lunch overlooking the harbor, seeing the glory of the sea and the antics of the seagulls. Sometimes we pack a suitcase and take a road trip. Our last one was to Mission Bay for the night. Before that, Monterey, where Dad wanted to visit the old Cannery Row of Steinbeck fame.

One of my favorite traveling moments was in Cambria, sitting on a hotel balcony looking out into a forest and listening to frogs, who were putting on quite a show. My Dad tried to imitate them and we laughed so hard! Being silly is one of the main ingredients in the fountain of youth, I’m quite convinced.

Today though, we did something we’ve never done before. I brought Dad over for dinner and he told me that his hands had been shaking and he was feeling forgetful and uncreative. He said he’d stopped writing. I could see the great disappointment in his eyes. So I said, “Perhaps you just need a muse. I need one too. How about we write together?”
And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Dad just looked up, happy, and said, “I’m writing. I haven’t been able to write for a long time.” It is nice to have a muse, and it is perhaps even better, to be one.

Dinner’s ready. Our writing adventure is over for today, but our hearts are full. Now for our bellies—hopefully dinner will be a good adventure too!

12 thoughts on “My Friend Dad

  1. Ohhhh….so soulful. Thank you both. This did my heart good. I am on my way tomorrow to see my Mom who has just gone through the whipple surgery for bile duct cancer. Along the way she was diagnosed with two other unrelated cancers….she is doing great, and I am convinced she will live many more years…she will be 77 on Sat. Love and Hugs Rose. Life IS an adventure, and school. I love it.

  2. Wow, what a lovely read first thing in the morning! I can totally relate to your time together. Mom and I are having a great time together traveling through, from the north to the south islands, of New Zealand. Although there are times of frustration, when I try to explain something repeatedly… that is definately not what I remember at the end of the day. What I remember are the places we’ve seen together, the stories she shared with me, her quick wit and sometimes sarcastic comments that we laugh about and the wonderful memories I will have for years to come.

    • Thank you Joce! Its so wonderful that you are taking your mom on this trip. I imagine its triggering memories and stories that you haven’t heard before! I learn new things about my dad every day. Please give your mom all my love, and Dad sends his love too!

      • Beautiful Rose! You have always been good with words! So neat the time you have spent with Papa! I know each of us can pull from our hearts and hats endless stories filled with love and laughter-respectively!!! I know the last days of Dads life were real soul searching for me and i miss him dearly! I honored him so ….. I promised both my parents that I would be by their sides when they pass…so important to me ….i was present , as he drifted back and forth in and out of his body until he finally left us….just as the waves of a ocean…come in and pull away! Taking what they can and leaving us what we need! Life is a continuum of many things especially wisdom and respect! Pay it forward and always care like you do – Rose! We need to keep the spirit alive!!! love to you and your lively handsome joyful spontaneous Father! Poody!….and for you joce i love the
        freespirit coming out of you as this trip continues! i miss you both but looks like you are having a wonderful time! love poos

        • That was really beautiful Pam! I miss your dad very much, he was always my “second dad.” Maybe your dad and my mom are laughing together over a Drambuie, or sitting on Magoo rock watching a sunset.
          xoxo

  3. Hi Rose,

    Such a lovely story about you and your dad. He is such a kind hearted man; you are both of kindred spirits.

    All my love,
    Kathy

    • Thank you Kathy!

      My dad still talks about Bend as a true highlight of his life, connecting with you again was like stepping back into the old neighborhood for a moment. Thank you so much for that!

      Love,
      Rose

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