I felt Dad with me today as I drove down Chuckanut through the changing autumn leaves. Autumn was his favorite time of year. October was his favorite month. The last few years of his 101 years, he was my companion on almost-daily drives – and I used to love driving him through forests full of gold and copper this time of year. Sometimes we wouldn’t say anything, and sometimes he’d tell me about the geology or the history of the places we drove. I miss seeing him sitting in the seat next to me, his alpine hat on his head. I miss his gravelly voice giving me lectures on glacial till and glacial moraines…
Dad: This is beautiful farm country. There used to be ice 5,000 meters deep here. (He points to the hills surrounding the flats.) Those are glacial moraines. They were created by glaciers.
(Excerpted from The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad.)
Dad is just finishing up his breakfast when I get there. We put shoes on his feet, his alpine hat on his head, and a sweater over his shoulders and load him up in my car for a drive. First stop: Sisters Espresso for his root beer float.
As we’re driving through the Skagit flats…
Dad: What kind of bird would you like to be if you were a bird? A seagull?
Karen: Yeah, maybe. (Thinking.) Or a kingfisher… those are pretty cool… they dodge up and down and skim the water… how about you?
Dad: (Thinking.) A seagull, I guess.
(We drive along the water for a bit.)
Dad: How’d you like to be a seabird, just sitting on the water, waiting for your next meal to turn up…
(On impulse, I turn down the airport road and head towards the little Skagit airport. Every now and then I stop to take pictures of the autumnal trees.)
Karen: I love autumn!
Dad: (Nodding his head…) Yeah. I think my favorite time of year is late October.
(I discover there’s a flight museum at the airport I never knew was there and pull over to take a picture of an old propeller. Dad’s turning his head from left to right – checking things out.)
Dad: I really appreciate you taking me on these scenic drives. Thank you.
Karen: I enjoy these drives.
(We head back to Dad’s home and pull into the driveway.)
Dad: This looks familiar.
Karen: Yup. You’re home!
Dad: Are they expecting me?
Karen: Yes, they are.
Dad: What are their names?
(I tell him the names of the people who care for him, and he nods his head – I think he’s trying to remember the names of his hosts, so he can be a good guest.)
I bought Dad a pair of headphones for his television – I’m hoping they can help him hear the dialogue. Gwen and Cindy and I play around with the headphones for a while – trying to get them to work – and we finally find success! I lead Dad to his room and put the headphones on him, and he can hear the conversation on the television. We settle him onto his bed.)
Karen: (Waving good-bye…) I love you, Daddy!
Dad: (Waving back…) I love you, too!
(Excerpted from Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad.)