Dad turned 81 this year.
After three trips to the hospital, four near car wrecks and the now infamous Walmart shopping cart incident, Dad has decided to scale back and embark on a new adventure as the newly installed resident of Misty Meadows Retirement Community; or as I like to call it, God’s Waiting Room.
The first step on this journey was to help Dad downsize his life. Moving from his 1700 square foot two-bedroom, two bath home to a 450 square foot studio apartment would be no mean feat. But his kids and grandkids stepped up to the plate and generously relieved him of the burden of his car, his furniture, his tools, his extra crockpot and just about anything else that wasn’t nailed down.
But we left him his dignity. It was the least that we could do. The very least.
The second step was to load up what was left of his belongings (bed, TV, computer, dresser, desk, recliner, microwave, toilet bowl scrubber, garbage can, two lamps “that’s all I need” – Steve Martin, two more chairs, framed pictures, bookshelf, luggage, clothes and boxes and boxes and more boxes of his stuff. Or maybe that was all of Mom’s old stuff . . . You know the stuff she forbade him to part with after her death on threat of a good old-fashioned haunting . . .
Still it only took my brother Alan and me less than an hour to fill up a mid-sized U-haul truck.
The third step was to drive over Donner Pass to Roseville, CA. Being the eldest and the responsible one I was worried about the weather and two approaching storms. The first storm was currently dropping rain along the entire stretch and the second storm was threatening to drop the snow level to 6000’ by nightfall. As the elevation of Donner is over 7200’ this could mean being stuck somewhere in the Sierra’s in the middle of the night. “Donner, party of three . . . Donner, party of three . . .”
But Alan wasn’t troubled by responsibility, having previously announced that we were going to be traveling at “Alan-speed” throughout the day, whatever that meant. As son number three, Alan has never embraced the importance of increasing one’s stress level to the maximum in order to be an hour early wherever he goes. At least not to the degree that Dad and I have. And even though Alan has always been Dad’s favorite I blame Mom for his behavior; always have, always will.
Besides Dad was hungry and we needed to make a stop for fast food. Being the epitome of efficiency that he is Dad had managed to get his phone turned off and his car turned over to his granddaughter three days too soon. So when he ran out of food two days earlier than planned he had been forced to subside on a bag of Fugi apples and a block of cheese. Of course this didn’t stop us from rejoicing over the fact that we didn’t have to pack any food stores into the van.
Alan and I flipped a coin to see who would get to ride with Dad. I won so Dad hopped in the U-haul with Alan and I jumped into my Jeep and cranked Pandora radio to my favorite station.
I told Alan I would drive behind him in case he had trouble with the weather, but I had forgotten that he had utilized his fancy Army Airborne training as a truck driver in South Korea. He drove that U-haul so fast over the pass that even Mom’s spirit had a difficult time keeping up. He soon lost me and by the time we had reached our destination he was a full fifteen minutes ahead.
The fourth step was to get Dad moved in . . . To be continued . . .