as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
My father walks every day--EVERY day--rain or shine.
Trust me, I know because I have to listen to him complain how much his feet hurt when he gets back. Part of me wishes he'd stay home, that way I can keep an eye on him, but another part of me realizes when he's not here I don't have to watch baseball on TV. It also gives me a chance to sneak away and do something special with one of my grandkids.
Like in January, for example, I took my granddaughter to see a special showing of The Wizard of Oz.* Interestingly enough, there were mostly adults in the audience. Very few kids. A group of ladies sat next to us. They came in late, then left to go get food. They couldn’t have done that BEFORE they entered the theater? I said nothing, even though I wanted to. My granddaughter was enjoying the experience, plus this is a different time we live in.
The lady who sat right next to us then answered a few text messages on her phone. It was distracting. To me, at least. Again, my granddaughter was transfixed by what was on the screen. I held my mud and said nothing.
A few minutes later, my granddaughter finished the popcorn in her kid’s box and wanted more, but she didn’t want to miss whatever came next for Dorothy. I weighed my options. The lady sitting next to us came in with three other women. They were all grandmotherly types, so I asked if she would watch my granddaughter while I made a quick trip to the concession stand. She was glad to. I was off and back as quick as a flying monkey.
When I got back I thanked her.
“Your granddaughter is a darling,” she told me.
“She’s a good girl,” I agreed.
I thought to myself: “Sometimes it’s better to hold your mud.”
Getting back to my father, I've mentioned before I enjoy hiking. I know a thing or two about shoes. My father benefits from this knowledge. As a result, he wears the best shoes my money can buy. I say “my” money, because my father can afford to pay for his own shoes, but affording to and actually doing it are two separate things.
Many a time we've gone to Costco and I'll see an item in our cart magically appear out of nowhere. It could be a pack of 50 little cheeses with a smiling cow on the label. I like cheese, but I don't want to eat 50 little packages of them. Neither does my father. He'll eat one, complain about how it stopped him up, and then the rest my wife will have to imaginatively include in the meals she prepares. Or it could be a box of 48 corn dogs. I like corn dogs, but FORTY-EIGHT?
"Pop," I'll tell him when the box mysteriously appears in the cart. I don't know how he does it. One moment something's not there. The next something is. He's pretty quick for an old guy. Anyway… "Pop, are you in the mood for a corn dog?"
"What?" is his usual reply.
"A corn dog. Are you in the mood for one?"
"Am I in the mood for what?"
"A corn dog."
"A corn dog."
I think my father tries to wait me out. If he keeps asking me to repeat what I've just asked him, he probably figures I'll get tired and quit, but I'm shopping with my wife. What else is there for me to do?
"Why do you ask?" my father says, suspiciously.
"I can't help but notice you put a box of 48 corn dogs in the cart."
“I did?” he’ll say.
I'll point at the box. He'll look at it as if he's never seen it before in his life.
"If you want a corn dog,” I’ll tell him, “why don't we go to the snack bar? I’ll buy you one."
See? I'm not such a bad guy. I don't mind buying my father a corn dog. What I mind is buying 48 of them, him eating only one, and then us having to get rid of the remaining 47. It’s gotten to the point my dogs run into the other room whenever I open the fridge.
"Oh, I don't want one now," my father will reply. "I want one for later."
"Are you sure? We can go to the snack bar. A corn dog sounds pretty good."
"I'm kind of hungry myself."
"I said I'm sure."
When my father's sure, he's sure. Unless he isn't. Although, even when he isn't, it still costs me money, because, out of stubborness, he'll pretend he is.
Which is a long way of explaining how my father loves buying things. What he doesn't love is PAYING for those things, so he'll drop them in our cart, knowing they will magically get paid for. No "Hey, can you buy me this?" No "Thanks, son." No "What are you going to do with the 47 corn dogs you'll have left over?"
My point, and I do have one, is when it comes to buying my father shoes, I don't skimp. I don't skimp with what goes on my feet, and I'd be a jerk if I skimped on what went on his.
The only problem is my father's feet.
Just like the rest of him.
You know what DOESN’T get old? The laughs at RaisingMyFather.BlogSpot.com, JimDuchene.BlogSpot.com, or @JimDuchene.
*Special thanks to Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies, and Cinemark. Some movies are meant to be seen on the big screen.