|Even Miley has a dad.|
A fact which may be troubling to Billy Ray.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know Fathers Day is a made-up Hallmark Holiday along the lines of Mothers Day, Valentines Day, and Canadian Thanksgiving-no, wait, that one's legit. My bad, eh?
Even so, I enjoy it as a father (yes, I've reproduced. Be afraid. Be very afraid).
What's even more important? I use it to honor those men I consider my father. Well, two out of three, anyway. I can just hear you asking, "Al? How is it possible that you have more than one father? And why am I talking to myself in this elevator? No wonder people are staring."
Obviously, I have a biological father. Considering that he taught me little more than how to scratch my back with a fork without Mom knowing and what type of racial epithet is appropriate for a particular ethic group, I'm not planning on giving him a call today. And not only because died in 2010.
|"Spic and Span? |
Yeah, that's what Puerto Ricans use to clean their kitchens."
See what I mean?
I wonder, though, if Hell has visiting hours?
I hold my stepfather in high esteem, though. No doubt you've read about him before in my post, Funerals By George, so I won't go into how he found himself in a house with five kids.
NOTE: If you haven't read it, I'll probably repost it on his birthday.
Sadly, the man who taught me how to be a man passed away nearly ten years ago. Luckily, my children knew him. He truly was a wonderful person.
Today, though, I want to pay tribute to the man who taught me how to be a father, and that is Mrs. Penwasser's dad. I met him thirty years ago and, while I at first thought he was eccentric, I find it fascinating that I'm now doing pretty much the same things he did (especially when it comes to my kids).
Frankly, if I was him, I'd be laughing my ass off.
|"You can say that again!"|
Sadly, he's starting to fade and that makes me profoundly sad. I also know a time will come when my children will begin to see me fade. But, that's the way of the world, I suppose.
To honor him, I'm including a short, true story of when "Papa" hurt himself. There are a lot of these kind of tales. The difficulty is picking which one to tell.
I call it Minty.
My father-in-law neglected to check the birth date on his driver’s license while on vacation in Maine.
Frustrated by the monotony of leisurely walks along the beach and the mundane repetitiveness of antique browsing, he thought he’d take a bicycle ride.
This was a mistake.
Sadly, while he may have once been the Schwinn Poster Boy during the Eisenhower administration, poor ole Papa now belonged on a bicycle as much as Madonna at an Amish barn-raising.
Undeterred, the passage of time wasn’t enough to dissuade this geriatric Evel Knievel from saddling up his pedal-powered steed and ambling off down the nearest bike path.
Unfortunately, the abrupt collision with the ground as he and said steed collapsed like cardboard lawn furniture did.
Stubbornly insisting he was okay, he tried to dust himself off and once more mount his two-wheeler. Despite his best efforts, though, he remained under the heap of his bike, a victim of that malady most commonly associated with the senior years-a broken hip. Or, more specifically, a fractured femur just as it enters the hip bone.
Needless to say, even Papa couldn’t shrug this episode off with just Tylenol and a nap. Figuring walking was one of life’s more important skills, he grudgingly consented to a trip to the hospital to get patched up. A planned lobster dinner would have to wait until next summer.
The operation went well. Ever the stoic, he insisted that he only be given a local anesthetic, rather than being knocked completely out. He figured the surgeon would need him to be awake to monitor the operation’s progress and offer any suggestions. Plus, Papa never liked to miss an opportunity to chat, never mind that his lower body would be cut open like a flounder at dinnertime.
Following his surgery, he proudly proclaimed to one and all that his fracture was a ”clean break.” I’ve always heard that if you had a broken bone, a clean break was a good thing. That may be true, but I lump that cheery little aphorism into the same category as “Heat lightning can’t hurt you.” and “Sand Sharks don’t bite.”
You’ll forgive me if I don’t check to see if either of those breezy little statements is true.
Anyway, hobbled as he was, Papa became the favorite of the ward. Never wanting to bother anyone, he took care of himself as best he could. Shoot, there was a story making its rounds of the floor that he actually helped one of the nurses take his roommate’s stitches out.
He cheerfully told anyone within earshot tales of his life and relished the opportunity to brag about his family and tease those younger than he that you just “gotta be tough.”
At the same time, he sheepishly admitted that what he tried to do wasn’t very smart. He solemnly proclaimed his bike-riding days were at an end. I suppose the fact that they were actually at an end in the 20th Century never occurred to him.
Since the staff sincerely appreciated his cheerful attitude, they gradually let him do a lot for himself. So, it wasn’t unusual that, on the day prior to his discharge, they dropped off a collection of unmarked bottles and a basin of water to help freshen up.
When asked what all the bottles were for, he was informed they were just basic toiletries. Since he couldn’t move around to the bathroom, the nurses told him to wash himself in bed. Granted, it wouldn’t be the same as standing under a hot shower, but it would be far more effective than being hosed down with Febreeze.
In his typical can-do manner, Papa promised his nurse he’d get right to it and reached over to one of the bottles. Thus relieved of this particular duty, the nurse pulled his curtain shut to give him a little privacy.
A half hour later, she returned. Flinging aside the curtain, she asked Papa if he was done.
Sure enough, he said, although he didn’t need every bottle she'd brought.
That was odd, the nurse thought. She glanced at his bedside table and saw that, next to a damp washcloth, only one of the bottles had been used. She sniffed the air.
“Wow, it smells really fresh in here.” She bent lower toward his bed. “You smell really fresh. Almost minty. Wow.”
“I know, that soap you people gave me was too strong. Not like I use back home.”
Momentarily distracted from his breezy dissertation on hometown soaps, the nurse took a glance at the one that was used. Oh.
“Is this the bottle you used to wash yourself?” She held it up.
He nodded yes.
A smile curling around her lips, she told him, “That’s your mouthwash.”
Giving no indication he did anything even remotely embarrassing, my FIL fixed the nurse with an exasperated look. Very calmly, but with an air that left no doubt who he thought the real simpleton was, he said, “Well, that’s to protect my body from the germs that cause gingivitis.”
He checked out that day.