Today, Veteran’s Day, is my father’s birthday. The good thing about that is that it is really easy to remember. Despite that, it got to a point in the day where I just about forgot to make the call. My dad is on the East Coast so he is now five hours behind the time here in Hawaii. Part of me wants it to be too late. To have that excuse for not calling. The time difference. It is not a good excuse as I talk to my mother each weekend day and she is also on the East Coast. But it is the excuse that I have. It is the excuse that makes me feel OK about it. I did not use the excuse today though and I called my dad at about 6:30 p.m. his time to wish him a happy birthday.
I have to admit that I was concerned. I’ve spoken to him the past and he seemed, mentally foggy. I wasn’t sure what I would do if that were the case today. It was not. My dad was full on and completely engaged today. He is currently living in the house of his caretaker. He is not healthy. He had a stroke many years ago and has never truly been well. He is suffering from a myriad of conditions. The phone conversations with him are mostly him documenting his medical maladies even though I know that he has gone through the entire litany with my sister earlier in the day. I listen and make the appropriate responses back to him. I can say that his is a true story of the failure of the Veteran’s Administration to ensure that Veterans are able to obtain appropriate care but that is another story.
My dad did remember to ask about my son, his only grandchild, surfacing in the midst the discussion. Well, it’s not really a discussion. Discussion implies give and take. On the phone with my dad is mostly give whether or not you want to take it. I suppose for me, it’s better that way. I’m not much of a giver anyway.
Then, my dad mentioned the horrific storm in the Philippines. He talked about how he had been in Manila years ago. He told me that he had been talking about all of the bad global weather with the family he lives with. The discussion had been around why there were so many awful storms and if it was meant to signal the end of the world. To warn us all that it was almost the time of the second coming. That we were being warned somehow. I was stunned into silence. After spending days hearing people discuss this same sort of thing in relation to same sex marriage which was being debated at the legislature, I was distinctly horrified. Global warming, global warming was running through my head and my dad did say that it could be that but then poo-pooed the very idea. I had no words. It was too close to the ugliness of last week. So I just listened some more until he was beckoned away for birthday cake and I could get off the phone. And I was left feeling, somehow sadder about our poor relationship than ever before.