Last weekend I shared my first real meal with my parents since the COVID-19 outbreak fifteen months ago. It was a Mediterranean takeout lunch that we shared at the kitchen table which has been the hearth of my family for nearly six decades. We were celebrating Father’s Day.
Until then my visits with my mom and dad were limited to facial mask outdoor visits, and depending on the weather, sometimes separated by a screened window. As we gathered this Father’s Day all fully vaccinated, it felt like a return to normal. I hugged and kissed my mother and father, who are 84 and 86, respectively.
So Grateful for the Love
I have been blessed to have shared many great memories with them throughout my adult life. They supported me through divorce and have always been there for me when I needed anything. We shared some great adventures when they visited me during the ten years that I lived in the New England region of the United States. We have had our ups and downs over the years, for sure, but I have always felt deeply loved. And it warms my heart when I hear my parents say that they love my now husband like a son.
My dad spent his career as a longshoreman working on the docks in San Francisco and Oakland. He came across as a tough guy with a vocabulary filled with colorful words. Growing up I would often hold my breath when my high school friends were over, hoping my dad would keep his words clean. Over the last 20 years he has mellowed into a very gentle loving man .
When I greeted him on Father’s Day, he was reclining in his favorite chair in the family room. I bent over to kiss his face and saw tears in his eyes. “I love you” was the very first thing he said.
Signs of Aging
Over the last year my mother has begun to be open with me about my father’s failing memory. She has shared that he often forgets where a household item is stored that has been in the same place for decades. On a recent phone call with my dad, I mentioned the surprise 50th wedding anniversary party we threw for my parents 14 years ago. He told me he did not remember it. During our visit last weekend, I learned that my father also does not remember the special occasion waterfront restaurant lunch and overnight stay we shared with them for their 60th anniversary four years ago.
We enjoyed our lunch and visited for a couple of hours before it was time for us to fight the traffic going home. I remembered the Father’s Day card that had been in my purse and handed it to him. He opened the envelope, admired the image on the front of the card and asked me to read it to him because he said that he cannot see.
A Father Daughter Bond
First, I read the words on the store-bought card and then the handwritten messages from my husband and I, expressing our appreciation for all he has done for us. “I’ve always been there for you,” he said with a sense of pride. So true, I thought to myself as my mind raced back through key events in my life when I needed some loving support.
As my husband and I prepared to leave the house, I bent down to kiss my father good-bye. As I bent over to meet his face, I saw the same watery eyes and heard the same expression of love as when I arrived. “I love you.”
As the only daughter in a family with two brothers, I have always felt a special bond with my dad. This Father’s Day visit opened my eyes to the fact that my time with him here on Earth is not unlimited.