Sometimes I get frustrated with my dad. He's an old guy, a widower, a bit set in his ways and I find myself impatient. I adore my dad. I was always a daddy's girl growing up, eager to impress him. The truth is, these things never really change.
Since my mom died we see each other a lot. He lives around the corner now and is a huge help shuttling my kids to hockey and soccer and swimming and running. He loves to cheer them on and socialize with the parents. He is often overheard bragging about their abilities or discussing quantum physics or lecturing on European history. He is a good man and my kids adore their "Bobo".
Sometimes I forget how his life changed the day my mom died. How the life he envisioned for himself - for the two of them - is merely an impossible fantasy now. He does such a good job of accepting his life now and putting on a brave face that I lose sight of the nights alone and the vacations for 1.
I am hard on him. When his stories go on a bit too long or his jokes are a tad inappropriate I often roll my eyes and, I am ashamed to say, shut him down.
But the other day was an eye-opener. I was putting my 13 year-old son to bed and he said to me, "You were being mean to Bobo tonight. I felt bad for him." I felt sick. I couldn't sleep all night and I called my dad first thing the next day to apologize. He said, "I know I sometimes go on a bit too long. The teasing? That is just our dynamic." But it has been days and I still feel terrible. Why can I not be more patient? Why can't I, like my 13 year-old, accept him and laugh with him at his jokes and enjoy the foibles of an old guy telling his already too long story for the 2nd or 3rd time?
I don't know. But what I do know is that I am going to make an effort. I will bite my tongue and smile. I will remember how lucky I am to have him and remind myself how much he has been through and how much I can learn from him. Because someday it will be me, if I am lucky. Someday I will be the old lady telling stories and jokes to my children and grandchildren. I want them to be patient and to remember who I am and who I was and that, even though I am now getting old, I want them to remember that we were all young once.
My handsome dad in his younger days with his whole life ahead of him.