My dad was waterskiing when he fell into the river. As the boat circled to pick him up, he noticed a hunter sitting in a duck boat in the reeds. My husband put his hands in the air and joked, “Don’t shoot!”
The hunter responded, “Don’t quack.”
I’ve been working on my PhD in engineering for the past five years, but my kids don’t necessarily see that as work. As we were driving past Walmart one day, my son spotted a Now Hiring sign and suggested that I could get a job there.
Hoping to make a point, I asked, “Do you think they’re looking for an engineer?”
“Oh, sure,” he said. “They’ll hire anybody.”
The biggest change after having kids was putting a swear jar in the house. Whenever I say a bad word, I have to put a dollar in the jar, and at the end of every month, I take all that money and buy myself a nice steak for being such a cool dad.
“Has your son decided what he wants to be when he grows up?” I asked my friend.
“He wants to be a garbageman,” he replied.
“That’s an unusual ambition to have at such a young age.”
“Not really, he thinks garbagemen only work on Tuesdays.”
The last Father’s Day that I spent with my dad, Don Patrick Desonier, occurred on June 17th, 2007. That year had been a definitive year in my father’s decline from Alzheimer’s so I didn’t need to be prescient to know that his time to escape the disease was drawing nigh. (Additionally, it didn’t help that his inoperable prostate cancer had decided to grace his body – like it needed something else to assault it.) I would normally not leave my husband to his own devices on Father’s Day – he’s a terrific dad and deserves to be spoiled – but I knew his adult daughters would give him his due so I left our Redmond, Washington home and flew down to Medford, Oregon for this mid-June celebration with my dad.
We enjoyed a subdued Father’s Day breakfast in the memory care unit’s dining room. My father didn’t eat all that much but he seemed to enjoy the ritual of sitting with his fellow memory-impaired friends as smiles and congratulations circled the table.
Those of you who are familiar with a memory care unit of an assisted living facility are also acquainted with the dearth of engaging activities therein, especially when your loved one can no longer participate in a meaningful way. Because of that dilemma, I always took my father “off campus” to take a walk at a nearby park. Mind you – his ability to ambulate was hindered, but we usually managed to walk the full perimeter, as we did that day. June in Medford, Oregon is H-O-T, but like many older people whose inner thermometer doesn’t seem to be working at full power – my father was dressed in a long-sleeved heavy cotton shirt buttoned right up to the neck, and an old standby wool cardigan – one of his faves.
Part way through our walk, I somehow convinced dad to at least take off his sweater, and to enjoy some hydration from the bottled water I always carried with me. Shortly thereafter, two 20-something year old men on bicycles approached on the path in our direction; they slowed down and before they passed us one of them uttered, “Happy Father’s Day, Sir!” Dad wasn’t quite aware of what they said but I reiterated their greeting, “Dad, they said Happy Father’s Day to you – isn’t that nice?” “Yes, Irene, it really was.”
Fast forward to June 16th, 2013; this adult daughter still remembers, and cherishes, the random act of kindness by those young men. It made my day in June 2007, and it’s made my day ever since. I’ve never forgotten your greeting, given to an old man who had certainly experienced many Father’s Day events in his 89 years. Thank you – bike riders at Hawthorne Park, on Main Street, Medford, Oregon. I hope you will always be on the receiving end of timely acts of kindness.
You are my heroes because you are ordinary people who did the ordinary right thing on June 17, 2007, making my dad’s last Father’s Day an extraordinary time.
Don Patrick Desonier:
March 12, 1918 – October 13, 2007
You don’t have to celebrate any of these “holidays” but at the very least, I hope you’ll have fun reading about them (I will be skipping a few days):
June 1 Dare Day
June 2 National Bubba Day
June 3 Repeat Day (I said, “Repeat Day”)
June 4 Hug your Cat Day (get the antiseptic and bandaids ready!)
June 5 World Environment Day
June 6 National Gardening Exercise Day – get out and exercise w/your plants
June 7 National Doughnut Day (always the 1st Friday in June – naturally!)
June 8 Best Friends Day
June 11 Hug Holiday (cats? dogs? slugs? people?)
June 13 Sewing Machine Day (does anyone still own one?)
June 14 Flag Day
June 15 National Hollerin’ Contest Day (gosh, I hope the neighbors don’t observe this one!)
June 16 Father’s Day and Fresh Veggies Day
June 17 Eat Your Vegetables Day (see June 16)
June 18 International Panic Day – is that here already!!!!!!!
June 21 Finally it’s Summer Day
June 23 Take your Dog to Work Day (and Clean Up After ’em Day)
June 26 Forgiveness Day (my favorite thus far)
June 28 Insurance Awareness Day – what a bunch of bunk!
June 29 Waffle Iron Day (see June 13th)
June 30 Meteor Day (see June 18th)