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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dealing with dad

The worst thing about being older is not the wrinkles or the gray hair that I see in my reflection in the mirror. The worst thing about being older is that my parents are older still.

They are at the age where I feel as if I'm their parent sometimes. "Have you been eating lately?" "Did you remember to turn off the stove?" "Drive carefully." are things I've said lately, not to our daughter in college, but to our parents.

This has been a good month for dad healthwise. He's able to travel a little, so he and my mother persuaded my brother to drive them from Texas to OKC for the weekend. Saturday evening, while the rest of the family was in the living room visiting, I found my dad standing in the hallway bathroom looking confused. "Dad, do you need something?"

"Light," he says. "I can't turn on the light."

I flip the switch, the light comes on.

"Oh, that's how you do it." he said, and shuts the door.

I stood in the hallway for a moment, realizing that my father had forgotten how to turn on the lights.

On the way home, my parents had to turn back to Shamrock, Texas when the high wind and fires caused I-40 to close down. Fortunately, my mother has a friend there so they went to her house. This is a woman they've known for years, so I was not too worried and quite happy that they were safe.

Yesterday, I talked to my mother. She was angry at dad.

"He stayed in the car," she said.

"What? What do you mean?" I asked.

"He wanted to go home, and so he refused to get out of the car the whole time we were stranded in Shamrock." she said. "I was so embarrassed. I'm never taking him anywhere again."

She's angry because she's scared. I'm still trying to sort out the emotions of how I feel. My father, a reasonable man, couldn't understand that he couldn't drive down an Interstate that was closed. So he sat in a car for five hours.

That's the worst part of being older. Learning to deal with things like that.

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