Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day 6:
• I can’t tell you how many of his stories begin with, “I met a guy at the gym..,” which is often followed by me saying “No Dad, I don’t want to meet him,” or “I’m not looking to start a business Dad. I have a job,” or “Great Dad. I hope he sells your screenplay.”
• My father has had a particularly long, somewhat obsessive, but still sentimental, relationship with his teeth and dentistry. Some of it may be due to all the money he spent on his wife’s caps and his children’s braces. Maybe it’s because he was brought up on a farm in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the dentist was also the local barber. I really think a lot of it is due to the fact that his very first successful medical malpractice suit had to do with oral surgery. You can see how it would hold such a special place in his heart. Presently, he’s trying to avoid dentures, so even though he was already over 80 years old, he had dental implants. I had an implant a few years ago and when I spoke to the doctor about the risks, he said only the elderly should be concerned, as their weakened jaw bones can fracture. This information did not dissuade my father in the least, as he always needs to have another medical procedure that he can litigate. He also carries around a beat up toothbrush, often sticking out of his back pocket, making him look like a street person. His greatest love though, is for his water pick. Since the early 90s, he’d run from the table mid meal to use it. “I have food traps!” he’d say, while my mother would roll her eyes. “He’s blowing his teeth out again! He drives me crazy with that stupid thing! Why doesn’t he just blow his head off with it?” When he went on a paid vacation in 2000 as a guest of the federal government for a 2 to 3 year stint in upstate New York, he tried to take his water pick with him. Strange how the department of corrections wouldn’t allow it. I guess you could turn it into a shiv.
• He almost always wears black. Black shoes, trousers and top. When we visit my mother at the hospital, if she’s not too doped up and somewhat conversant, she’ll grunt out something along the lines of, “He’s wearing all black again. I don’t know what’s with him. He looks like the grim reaper.” I doubt he’s being fashionable and I know he’s not a Johnny Cash fan. Like Johnny though, he has taken on a more compassionate concern for the downtrodden in society since he was in the can, now that he considers himself a member of the downtrodden. On second thought, I think he’s just constantly running in stealth mode. Or “Our Man Flint” might have been on TV the other night…
Ya gotta love the guy.
© Curt Weiss 2014