Our assignment for “The Write Practice” today was to write about a father figure in a way that lets the reader really see this person, get up close to him. I thought I’d share my essay with you folks. Does this let you really see one aspect of the man that was my Dad?
He was grumbling about Mom again as I drove him home from the hospital that afternoon. In as gentle a tone as I could manage I said, “Dad. You have a vision problem.”
He glared at me with his good eye. “Whaddaya mean, a VISION problem?
His other eye was bandaged, but the bandages didn’t completely cover the mess on that side of his face where cancer had chewed up his eye socket and was draining in open sores. He’d just had a dose of radiation to slow down the disease’s insidious spread into his brain. He did indeed have a vision problem.
Though I felt sorry for his suffering, now was as good a time as ever to face the truth. Who knows how many months he had left? “In all these year you’ve never been able to see in any good in Mom.”
I braced myself for his angry response, but he gave me the silent huff, one of his well-practiced skills.
Before we’d left the city, heading for home, we had stopped at the grocery store and picked up a few things. Mother’s Day was two days ahead so I’d bought a spray of yellow carnations for my Aunt Sadie, who lived with Mom and Dad at this time. I was pleased to see Dad pick up a potted plant with beautiful blooms on it. Mom would like that. In my recollection, Dad rarely gave her anything but grumbles and scowls.
Mom was looking at the mail when we got home and showed us a card from their son*, Verne. As we put our groceries away she read, “To a wonderful mother…”
“Wonderful!” Dad snorted. “Hmph. I’ve been married to you for forty years and I’ve never seen anything wonderful yet.”
I piped up, “Well, Dad, I told you that you had a vision problem.” He glared at me again.
I handed the bouquet to Aunt Sadie and she admired it. Mom was glad, too, and commended me for thinking of Sadie, since none of her children were nearby. Mom was always glad to see others get something nice. In spite of the unhappiness she lived with daily, in her old age she had a sweet, sensitive disposition that endeared her to everyone she met.
Two days later the neighbour lady, a woman about twenty years younger than Mom, phoned and invited us for tea, so Mom and I went. We chatted about this and that, then she happened to say to Mom so sweetly, “Your Fred is such a dear. He brought me this lovely plant for Mother’s Day. But that’s Fred, always thinking of others.”
I was stunned. I eyed the plant Dad had bought, innocently blooming its heart out. (Good thing there was no big knife around or I might have grabbed it and hacked that plant to pieces.)
Neither Mom nor I responded to her remark. I wonder if she understood our silence?
Yeah, that was Dad. Even as he faced death he was still always thinking of somebody else rather than his own family. Especially other women.
(* I was raised by my Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Fred from the time I was three months old. Verne was their only child.)