Tuesday, September 3, 2013
We spent the weekend at my dad's. Summer is almost over and we have to finish up the work we started, painting some trim on his house. While he's capable of doing the work himself he is not naturally inclined in that direction. I am pretty sure my stepmother took care of all these things, doing some of the fix-it stuff herself, directing him on some jobs and hiring the rest out. She was conscious of how the house should look, he seemed oblivious but willing to do what she implored him to do. She has been away physically for over year but she stopped being able to care about these domestic details a few years before that. In some ways those last years before her stroke and fall were pleasant. She was more relaxed, less critical. Alzheimers took her need to have things just so. We were not always close. There were difficult years but I understood her and she knew it. We had a bond, ultimately she was a good mother and she and dad had a good relationship. She's everywhere in the house and I feel by helping him we are helping her too, carrying out her wishes, considering her preferences, keeping her present in a home in which she is absent. When we arrived Saturday dad was home eating his light lunch. He was wearing a huge pair of cargo pants, filthy and cinched around his waist, his now narrow hips no longer a match for a widening waist-band. I asked him if he maybe needed me to go with him to get some new pants for fall. I made a joke about back to school shopping but he's wary of me and my helpful hints about appearance and grooming practices. I have to tread lightly. I think of my stepmother and how she would have handled him and his over-sized pants. They would have simply disappeared in the laundry one day, gone to the poor, or the compost if they had no trace of wear left in them. She felt strongly that even the poor had standards. He wore shorts the next day and assured me that he has clothes to wear and we discussed wearing a greater percentage of them. This seemed to please him. Mark did some painting and I washed dishes and wiped up crumbs. I could go crazy cleaning the house but the cleaning woman had just been there so it felt pretty okay, considering. On Sunday we took a long walk punctuated with pie and coffee. We walked to Pt Grey Road and watched a race of Lasers in the bay. The single sails were so pretty moving together as a group gently changing shape as their sailors adjusted their trim and direction as they passed the race markers. It was hot and the dogs panted as we sat on a little knoll and watched the boats finish their heats and then begin again.