My elderly father refuses to admit it, but his daily walks are taking their toll on him.
He no longer walks as far, he no longer walks as long, but he's still determined to get out there and worry me to death.
"I don't feel like going," he'll sometimes say, but before I can encourage him not to torture himself, he's grumbling his way out the door. He's so stubborn, he even aggravates himself.
If it's hot, I'll tell him to wait until it's cooler. He'll refuse. Sometimes he'll even put on a light jacket. I'm positive it's just to irritate me. When it's cold, he'll head out the door in shorts and a t-shirt.
"At least put on a sweater," I told him.
"It’s not cold," he argued.
"Pop, it’s so cold even Miley Cyrus is wearing clothes."
I didn’t bother answering.
“It’s cold,” I said.
"It feels warm to me.”
"That's because we're indoors.”
"I'll be alright," he said, but what he meant was, “Nobody tells me what to do.”
When he got back, his cheeks were bright pink, his nose running. He was briskly rubbing his hands together, trying to get the blood circulating.
"Man, it's cold," he growled as if it was something I didn’t know.
Meanwhile, my beautiful wife was simultaneously making him a warm tea and giving me the stink eye for letting him go.
Suddenly, it was colder inside than it was outside.
When it's hot, he comes back looking as if he's just had a stroke.
"Why didn't you tell me how hot it was?" he complained to me back in July, gulping down the glass of water my wife always has waiting for him. Room temperature, in case you’re wondering.
“I TOLD you how hot it was,” I answered him. I didn’t know if he was serious or yanking my chain. “CHICKENS are laying OMELETTES, for goodness’ sake.”
Later that night, he was sitting in his favorite chair watching his favorite sport on his favorite TV. His favorite team was playing. The score was tied. It was a good game. Even his dog was interested. Out of the blue, my father called it a day and shambled off to bed. My wife and I had been talking quietly in the kitchen. We just looked at each other.
Sooner or later, Father Time catches up with all of us. No matter how much we exercise. No matter how healthy we eat. We all get to the age where it’s our doctor telling us to slow down, not the police.
I've noticed the older I get, the more noises I make. Sometimes I grunt when I sit down, but mainly I grunt when I get up. My father grunts too. When he does, he blames it on the dog.
When I go to bed at night I must clear my throat about a dozen times. I don't know how my wife shares a bed with me, because it must drive her nuts. And thank goodness for my CPAP machine. You know the saying: “Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Snore, and you sleep alone.”
“Why is it that men who snore always fall asleep first?” my wife once groused.
“Which other men have you been sleeping with?” I groused back.
My father, on the other hand, drives ME nuts with all of his lip smacking, ooh-ing and aah-ing, and massaging of his front teeth with his tongue. I've tried to sit down with him to watch TV, but, after a while, the only sounds I hear are the ones he's making with his mouth. Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara could be jiggling around in one of her tight outfits and I couldn't enjoy it. I have to get up and go someplace else. Someplace where I can't hear the neverending Smack! Smack! Smack!
Yesterday, the “Ah, ah, ahhhs,” “Oh, oh, ohhhs,” and “Hee, hee, heees” were so loud I could hear him all the way in my bedroom upstairs.
"Sorry, Sofia," I told the TV, "I just can't give you the attention you deserve."
The noises were so loud, my wife even asked if my father was okay.
"He really likes ‘Modern Family,’" I told her, not really explaining anything.
My lovely daughter came into our bedroom and made the mistake of asking me why I never sit with my father when he watches TV. She couldn't help but notice I was watching the same program upstairs in my bedroom that my father was watching downstairs in the den.
She shouldn't have asked.
I told her the story.
The WHOLE story.
She thought I was being mean and went downstairs to keep her grandpa company. A while later, she came back and moaned that I never should have told her about her grandpa's noises.
"That's ALL I hear now," she wailed. She had a bowl of cereal in her hands. "I can't even eat in the kitchen, because all I hear is the smacking."
She shook her head sadly.
"Poor grandpa," she said.
Poor grandpa, indeed.
True, it's sad, but life is sad.
And old age is a road we'll all have to travel one day.
If we're lucky.
These days, my back goes out more than I do. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org; @JimDuchene.