The Original Crotchety Old Man

My Dad has a temper. That’s what I know best about him. His eyes blaze and his nostrils flare, evoking the bull of his sun sign, Taurus. I got really good at picking up visual cues that we were heading toward the red zone. We all did, and we watched visitors to our house like hawks to make sure they didn’t step on any land mines.

During my visit last weekend, he only got irritated with me once. When I was climbing back behind him to pose for a picture, I put my hand on the back of his chair, causing him to rock backward. It startled him and may have even hurt. He announced he was getting irritated. Otherwise, he was nothing but sweet to me for my entire visit.

Two days after I left Lexington, his wife left for a six day trip with her grandkids. She made arrangements with Hospice and family members to look in on him while she was gone. My sister’s visit to Lexington would take place on three of those days. The bases appeared to be covered.

Nobody came to get Dad up the first morning she was gone. I’m not going to go into all the he said, she said around the incident. Clearly, there was a communications glitch. Dad exploded and said a lot of ugly things to the people who’d volunteered to help him. If you’ve ever worked with volunteers, you know this is not the best way to get the help you need.

I was not on the receiving end of his tirade, making it a lot easier to feel the way I do about the situation. Forgiving. The poor man is dying. He’s nearly helpless, and for whatever reason, his carefully laid plans to see to his needs while his wife was away failed miserably the very first day. Cut the man some slack.

Some of what I’ve heard suggests a decline in his condition since my visit last weekend. He’s asking for things like ice-cream or a glass of water, and then when he gets them, doesn’t remember having asked for them. He didn’t do that while I was in.

My father is the original crotchety old man. Everyone who knows him knows this to be true. In these last weeks of his life, is it any surprise that he’s the same as he’s always been? I wish he could be different. I know he’s wished I could be different a time or two as well. Wish in one hand…

I am even more grateful than I was last week for what will likely be my last visit with him. We’re good. In fact, we’re better than good. When I left Lexington, things between Dad and I were the best they’ve ever been between us.

My sister deserves to feel the same way. She walked into a highly volatile situation. She doesn’t know it, but she’s the best person for the job. He has always loved her more than anything in the universe. He wasn’t very good at it. Sucked, in fact. But I know it to be true.

My heart goes out to my sister. She’ll do the right thing. She always does. Whether he will remains to be seen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed here in…

My Glass House