Took Dad to an eye doctor appointment today. The eye doctor place lets us wait in the car until they’re ready for us. This gives Dad and I a chance to talk in a quiet space.
Karen: Dad, you’re going to be 101 in a couple months.
Dad: (Nodding.) How old are YOU going to be?
Karen: I’m going to be 63 in September.
Karen: (Laughing.) I know, right? Isn’t that crazy?!
Dad: How can that be?! (Thinking.) Time goes faster the older we get.
Pretty soon the eye technician comes out to fetch us. I’ve forgotten Dad’s walker, but I walk backwards in front of him and let him use my arms as a walker. We head into the exam room and Dad takes a seat in the examination chair. As the technician gives directions I speak them into Dad’s ear. “This is Shay. She’s going to take your blood pressure now. Put your arm across your chest. Good! How’s your vision been? Okay. Do you see the dot? Good! Do you see the lines? Are the lines straight?”
Dad: (Thinking this might be a trick question, I guess.) The lines appear to be straight.
Karen: (Laughing.) Good.
(Shay sees that Dad’s nose is dripping and grabs a tissue and wipes his nose. Like all the people at this clinic, she is kind to Dad.)
After the exam is done, we head to the room where they’ll take a photo of his eyes. Dad knows the routine now and sits in the chair and puts his chin in the chin cup. After photos are taken we go to the room where he’ll meet with Dr. Saperstein. Before the doctor comes in I remind Dad that the doctor is a mountain climber. When Dr. Saperstein enters, he greets Dad and Dad reaches out his hand for his special mountaineering handshake – it starts as a regular handshake – strong and firm – and then their hands move into position like they’re about to arm wrestle. They both grin at each other. Dr. Saperstein has passed Dad’s test. )
Karen to Dr. Saperstein: That was Dad’s special mountain-climbing handshake. He knows you’re a mountain-climber.
Dr. Saperstein: My climbing is nothing compared to what your Dad has done. (He looks at me and grins.) In fact, my climbing is nothing compared to what YOU have done. You’ve climbed a lot more mountains than me.
Karen: (Laughing, and kind of embarrassed. I guess I HAVE climbed a lot of mountains – Rainier, Baker, Adams, Hood – but…I don’t know that I’ve ever really thought of myself as a climber.) I just followed Dad up the mountains and then followed him back down.
Dr. Saperstein: (Laughing.) Well, you’ve done a lot more climbing than me. (He looks at the photos of Dad’s eyes.) His eyes look good. We won’t have to give him a treatment today. Let’s plan on seeing him again in three months.
I help Dad out to the waiting room and help him sit in a chair. I tell him I’m going to make another appointment for him and then we’ll go and get him a root beer float. He nods. He thinks a root beer float is a good idea. After I make our next appointment I help Dad up and we begin our slow journey to the door. I let everyone in the waiting room know that Dad will be 101 in a couple months. They are impressed – and I feel them sending Dad their support as he works his way towards the door. “Dad’s a mountain climber,” I say. “He’s in Wikipedia. K2.” I can see that at least one of the men in the waiting room knows what “K2” is – his eyes get big and he smiles a big smile. He says he’s honored to be in the same room with Dad.
I’m incredibly relieved when Dad has finally reached the car. At the end it looked like he might collapse – but he made it! Step by step – never giving up.
Dad: Let’s go find a place with a root beer float.
I drive Dad to the Sisters Espresso…
Dad: (Looking out the window.) The Skagit Delta. Beautiful country.
I pull into the Sisters Espresso parking lot.
Karen: Do you remember this place?
Dad: (Nodding.) I’ve been here many times.
I order him his float. When I bring it to him he smiles and says thank you. I head west – stop for some eagle pictures, and then drive by daffodil fields.
Karen: Daffodils! Aren’t they beautiful?!
Eventually we end up back at Dad’s home. I park in front of the door.
Karen: Do you know how much I love you?
Dad: How much?
Karen: Infinitely much.
Dad: (Nodding.) Infinitely.
I help Dad out of the car and reunite him with his walker.
Dad: (Looking at the house.) Do we know these people?
(Just then Amanda comes out of the house…)
Dad: (Smiling.) Hi!
Amanda: (Smiling back.) Hello!
We help Dad up the stairs. Today he chooses to go right to his bedroom. He’s ready for a rest.
Karen: Thank you for the drive today, Daddy.
Dad: Thank YOU for the drive.
Karen; I Love you!
Dad: I love YOU!