Taking Dad for a Drive

Karen: Daddy, do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I wouldn’t mind.
(In the car)
Dad: Thank you for taking me for a drive. You’re a good daughter.
Karen: It’s my pleasure.
Dad: Do you prefer to call me “Dad” or “Father”?
Karen: I call you “Daddy.”
(We turn into the local espresso stand. Dad recognizes this as the place where I buy him root beer floats.)
Dad: Oh good! This is exactly what we need right now!
(Back on the road – Dad’s got his root beer float and I have my lavender ice tea.)
Dad: This is the longest time I haven’t seen Mom. I think she’s in Kansas City… or somewhere in the Midwest… helping the government.
Karen: I know she’s doing a good job.

(We reach the Chuckanut Hills)
Dad: I used to do water rights surveys out here when I worked for the USGS.
Karen: That was a fun part of your job, wasn’t it?
Dad: Yes. I always took little detours when I went on these survey trips. (He looks around and studies the landscape.) This is a beautiful part of the world.

(We’ve gotten to Fairhaven now.)
Dad: I wonder how many places are called Fairhaven. It’s a good name. It has a happy sound to it.
(We get all the way to Boulevard Park. For some reason, every single parking space is taken today.)
Dad: Are we going to park here and walk around?
Karen: There’s no parking today. We’ll try to do that another day.
(Dad nods his head in understanding.)

As we’re driving up from the park I spot my old friend, Darryl – Darryl and I made acquaintance on the boardwalk several years ago when we saw each other taking photos and struck up conversation. In the course of our conversation we’d realized that Darryl’s Aunt Gladdie was one of Mom and Dad’s good friends. I stop and roll down the window and introduce Dad to Darryl – and try to explain that Darryl’s aunt is Gladdie. Dad is profoundly hard-of-hearing and I wasn’t sure he understood what was going on, but he smiled and shook Darryl’s hand and we moved on. A minute later he said, “Was he related to Gladdie in some way?” I told him he was Gladdie’s nephew. Dad asked me how I discovered this – “Did he have a sign on him that said he was Gladdie’s nephew?” he joked. And I explained how Darryl and I had met by chance and discovered we had his Aunt Gladdie in common. Dad nodded. In his world, this kind of coincidence is probably perfectly normal. He knows a lot of people.

(We head back down Chuckanut.)
Dad: Do you take a lot of drives with Mom?
Karen: Yes. (I take my late mother on all my drives with me.) But I like taking drives with you, too.
Dad: We don’t talk much. (I can tell he’s thinking about his hearing problem.)
Karen: No, but it doesn’t matter.
Dad: It doesn’t matter because we’re with each other.
Karen: Right!

(We get back to his home. He has a hard time getting in and out of the car these days – he will, after all, be 99 in a month. He tries to shift his feet out of the car and onto the pavement. This is hard work. He sighs and laughs and looks up at me.)
Dad: These days it’s just hard getting up the energy to get out of the car.
(I can tell he’s gathering his energy to lift himself out of the seat and I reach under his armpits to help him. “One-two-three!” And he’s up!)
Dad: Thank you for the drive today.
Karen: It was fun, wasn’t it?
Dad: Yes, I enjoyed it very much.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you, too.

2 thoughts on “Taking Dad for a Drive

  1. Karen, I always love it when you write about your parents. The gentle way you do it, with including the conversation while describing the setting is very moving, you are a great story teller! My father passed away two years ago and I was not that close with him until the last two years of his life. He was a somewhat stern man and from the time I became a teenager we really had very few real conversations. I think one of the problems was the fact that I was the first child to very young parents. My mom was 19 when I was born and my father 20 so it was almost like we grew up together. I was a pretty independent young man so by the time I was a teenager I was doing my own thing. I wish now I could go back and talk to him when he was still himself. He developed Dementia the last two years of his life and I would take him on drives and talk as he enjoyed that but many times he did not really understand what was going on. He always loved dogs and one day while we were driving he said that if he was a billionaire we would build a huge ranch were all stray dogs could be brought and lead happy , safe lives. It was at the moment that all of the resentment I had bottled up in me melted away as I realized that he was very much capable of love and I saw him in a completely different light. Sorry I got side tracked! Your post always put me a a very reflective mood! Tell your father I like the name Fairhaven too! I don’t know of any towns around here named that but I don’t live all that far from the town of Fairhope Alabama. It is a beautiful little town on Mobile Bay. It is a very artsy place and pretty liberal by Alabama standards . There is a beautiful Christian Science church there that I think is the oldest CS church in Alabama or maybe even in the SouthEast. I don’t remember now. I visited there one Sunday as a teenager many years ago after a trip to the beach and a old guy who was like the local historian told me about it but I guess I was paying that much attention! Lol but I think you would like it if you ever decide to take a Deep South vacation! Take care! Rick

    • Typing one-handed because a cat is being cradled in my other arm. 🙂 I always so enjoy your responses to my posts, Rick. Thank you so much for sharing YOUR stories with ME. It means a lot to me that you take the time to do this. Love, Karen

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