Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hugs and kisses

Nice moments with my dad have become sadly rare. His illness often leaves him frustrated and angry. But he was exceptionally calm and happy yesterday evening, and we had a sweet little time together. He can’t really converse anymore, so I just chattered to him (mostly about H and B, but I also described this photo).

Thanksgiving, 1958-ish. That’s a whiskey sour near the turkey.
Dad’s, not mine.

We had a few laughs, and a bowl of ice cream—Neapolitan, his favorite. Then I washed up as he headed to bed, followed him in, tucked him up, and kissed him on the top of his shiny bald head (our long-running joke). He laughed, and I said good-night and left.

Something about this reminded me of the mornings of my youth. Dad always got up far earlier than my mom and I. He liked to get to work early, have a light breakfast in the company cafeteria, and ease into his day. But every morning, just before he left the house, he came into my room, bent over, and gave me a kiss. He did it when I was a small boy, and he was still doing it when I was home from college and during the months I lived at home after I graduated.

My mom once learned from dad that when he came back from the service and walked into the old apartment on Southmayd Road, his mother’s reaction was simply to look up and say, “Hi, Dick.” Not a home where he got a loving kiss every morning. Which, I suppose, is a big reason why I did.

And after years of mostly pats and hugs, we’re back to lots of kissing. I give him his smacker on the dome almost every morning and frequently before bed, and I kiss him on the cheek when tea is over and Paul begins to walk him up to his little apartment. When I head out his door, having left him with a quick peck, he often trundles across the room for a firm embrace and a kiss planted squarely on my mouth. It’s partly goodnight, it’s partly thank you, it’s mostly I love you. And it’s also, clearly, goodbye.

Great love. Great sadness.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Our mountaineer

I spent the weekend in New Hampshire and Vermont with the Concordians. On Sunday afternoon, we took a walk on Mt. Kearsarge—up Winslow (1.1 mi.) and down Barlow (1.8 mi.).

Sweet B  made the ascent and descent entirely under her own power.

She loved the open slabs that form the mountain’s peak, and she and daddy had a go at the fire tower, only to find that the little house on top was locked. (Don’t know why I have no photos of this exploration, and the top and bottom photos aren’t mine, either. Thanks, A and H.)

Like all kids, B’s idea of mountain walking boils down to surmounting interesting obstacles. Up and over rather than around. Steep and leaping instead of gentle and avoiding. 

At one point, H carefully explained the best route down through some rocks and trees. B blithely ignored it all, and headed off over some interesting granite. “I kinda like going my own way,” she remarked over her shoulder. Mmm, yes, we’d already noticed that...and not on a mountain.

All natural and good, I think, though it does call for parental and grandparental self-control and reasonable anticipation of the inevitable literal or figurative misstep. Though B seems to have that covered, too. Early on she danced out ahead of us and tripped. As she got up, she noticed that we were continuing to walk along and chat, so she stood and announced, “When I fall down, everybody must pause.”

So. A four-year-old iconoclast with delusions of grandeur. But charming, charming.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Iron people

We had our houseful of glowing athletes this past weekend, but all the good pix seem to be in other peoples’ cameras. Almost everyone did well, despite high heat and humidity, on the beautiful but very tough, hilly courses. A and H were pleased to finish the International (Olympic distance) race 20th and 11th in their divisions, though A was a little disappointed in his run and H briefly suffered what she called an “anxiety attack” early in her swim.

One of our backyard campers was 3rd in his group in the much longer Half-Ironman. It was his birthday the day before, and sweet B played “Happy Birthday” on her Suzuki violin when it was time to cut the cake. It was her best attempt yet, and of course she received terrific applause from the 14 or 15 grown-ups around the table. Her grin even outdid ours.