Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Learning Never Ends

If my dad had outlived my mother, I am sure we would have faced many interesting challenges. It wasn't that he didn't know how to take care of himself - or a household... but he never had to do it, so he didn't! He left his shoes and socks in the floor... the daily newspaper in the bathroom. He was rather color blind, so we had to lay out his socks for him, so that he didn't wear green or navy ones with a black suit. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I saw him make a bed or run the vacuum. So I could relate completely with Beka Miles' post of her dad's attempts to cope now that his beloved JoAnn is gone. I give him an "A" for effort!

The underwear saga continues: When Dad and I talked late this afternoon, he was sorting his “undershorts” and weeding out the ones that had lost their elasticity. It seems that the whole John Miles’ undershorts saga began in the early days of mom’s hospitalization when Dad came to Mom who was stretched out there in her hospital bed and he asked her what he should do because his underwear kept sagging down. Mom explained that he needed to get rid of the sagging ones and go to the store and buy some new underwear. So, having finally found some new underwear that fit, Dad was going through his drawer this afternoon and getting rid of the old ones. He asked me,

“Now what do I do with the old undershorts?”
“Just pitch them, Dad.
“NO, I can’t throw them away. Maybe I could give them to Goodwill.”
“Goodwill doesn’t want used underwear with busted elastic. Why don’t you put them in the rag-bag that hangs in the laundry area. Underwear is good for dusting.”
“Darling! I can’t walk around the house dusting with my drawers! That wouldn’t be right!”
“OK, Dad, just put them in a bag, and I’ll take care of it when I get there”, (which really means, “If you can’t pitch them, I’ll pitch them.”
“Beka, how many pairs of undershorts should I have?”
“There is no set number, Dad. How many pairs do you want?”
“Maybe I’ll count my underwear including the ones I’m getting rid of. That way I’ll know how many pairs of undershorts JoAnn kept in my drawer.”

Mom always told my siblings and me, “If something happens and I go first, your Dad is going to need help from yall.” We didn’t give that much thought because she was so much healthier than Dad; it seemed near impossible that she would die first. And somehow, even when I did think about it, I imagined that she meant moral support, a listening ear, and help organizing his bills. It never occurred to me that we would be having ongoing discussions about what to do when his underwear sagged. He has many questions about the household that I would never have anticipated. I think I’m going to give him a housekeeping book that explains all of the basics. I told him I was going to bring him a book like that and he said, “It would be too complicated for me.”

Sometimes I think maybe he’s just pulling my leg and he actually knows a lot more than he lets on. But then I realize that there is a lot he simply does not know about homemaking. But he is happy to learn, and he laughs and laughs about his house-keeping problems. His attitude is remarkably good under the circumstances.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was a sand-gener, and my house was crazy with dogs, cats, husband, three kids...and my mom.

I was grateful it wasn't my dad--I think he would have grieved himself to death. My mom had Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, so most days were like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disney, but I'm still grateful for the time we had. Even when it was hard (and I mean hard!), it's still worth it.

~Carol D. O'Dell
Author, Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Mmoir