Dec 18, 2008

Gypsy

"On the spur of the moment" is one of those phrases we just say, but it really means something: spur, being an occasion for physical pain or mental movement. At least, that's how I define it. And yesterday, I felt the sting of obligation mixed with the need for a change of scenery, so I rounded up the Pepper Dog and set off for parts West.

My father is now 89 years old and mostly still very handsome, if less toothsome. I am the youngest of his rather large flock of kids and this spur-of-the-moment trip was a re-affirming of his place, for good or ill, in my life.

Do I have a hundred reasons to reject him? Are some of them criminal? I am so well and past those questions. But here, in the twilight of his reason and cognizance, I latched onto the opportunity to wrest from him just one more longed-for moment of "rightness" in the grand scheme of life. A moment to be his daughter, to see his eyes-- those incomparable twinklers-- to see them light up and see me. And he sees me! And smiles broadly, twinkly smiles. And he dozes off for a few seconds. And he awakens to ask where Gypsy is.

Oh heart! Gypsy was my first real dog, when I was about nine years old. Of course she was a family member, but she was mine by virtue of the time and energy I put into training her, and later her pup, to do all manner of tricks. It was the pride of my father's insatiable need to entertain people with music or jokes, to have me dress up the poor dogs in little tutu's I'd designed and set them to their paces for review by whatever hapless visitor happened upon our decidedly humble abode.

You have to understand, I found space for myself amongst the large brood, only by being decidedly different in ways my wolfpack of siblings couldn't mock, steal, or reproduce for themselves. And to have that crown re-conferred upon my sorry stupid little head, even at this age, was something to make my impoverished heart leap up in youthful joy and love. I am nine years old again!

I introduced Pepper Dog to him and he exclaimed, "what a beautiful creature!" and I beamed with joy as he pet her. Of course, everyone at Hospice had to pet her, too. Her best trick is to be lovable and she does it rather well.

And Dad dozes again. The nurses kept goading him to stay awake. "He sleeps too much," they said.

"Well, he worked two jobs and provided for his family, and took his kids on awesome camping trips, or fishing, taught us how to fix our bikes and cars and made sure we were charitable to the less fortunate. I think he's earned all the sleep he wants," I counter.

Such a mind, to fall so far back into time. With an eighth-grade education and an I.Q. of 150, I don't think the Navy knew what to do with him to keep him busy and motivated. They made him take the I.Q. test twice. They made him a teacher, and as such he took to it.

He would advise us soberly that credit was a great servant but a lousy master, having lived through the first Depression. He would tell me of his vision of a cashless society based on a debit banking system, long before any of us could have imagined it. He never wanted things, either. He wanted experiences, travel, and newness. Lord forgive me, but I come by it honestly, the "gypsy soul" that he nurtured in each of his creatures, be they kith or critter.

He is now mostly comfortably slipping back into younger days and daydreams, and will likely be unreachable in the near future. My issues with him were settled years ago, my expectations of him released to the Greater Judge, my future resting ahead of me, not languishing in my past.

But, like Jacob of old, I wrested one more blessing out of my father. It is enough.

Sweet dreams, Dad.

17 comments:

Jim - PRS said...

Wonderful post, Joan.

LauraB said...

Oh, WHY did I read that at work?!

So similar, but that I get to still enjoy him in the Now and Here.

Bless you for the trip. Make as many as life will allow you. You won't regret a mile, later...

Where's my damned hanky?

Richmond said...

Wonderful post. And a wonderful blessing. Thanks for sharing it...

Robin Starfish said...

I like your dad. Because you love him.

pamibe said...

Whether you mean it to be so or not, that was an incredibly touching post. What a tribute to both of you.

Mizz E said...

How good it is for the gypsy soul to arrive at that place where it can be completely present to another; not comparing nor competing; simply loving.

GUYK said...

Beautifully written.

julie said...

Yes, beautifully written.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Thanks, all. I surprised myself by needing to just process it all of a sudden today.

CGHill said...

Absolutely lovely, in the best sense of the word: motivated by love.

Anonymous said...

Atta gurl. You're definitively good xo ;~)

Jean said...

Unconditional love.
Peaceful hearts.

:-)

Erica said...

Ahhhhh, such a wonderful, comforting post. What a lovely kind of love you two share. Bless his soul, and yours.

PeggyU said...

That was beautiful, Joan :)

Gecko said...

Sniff, blubber . . .and blessings on you both.

Anonymous said...

.... well said, ma'am.....

Eric

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Wow! That is beautiful, Joan.
Thanks for sharing such a tender moment.
God bless you and your dad.