Monday, October 29, 2007

Dad Laughs and Smiles


Visions of the mountains in Autumn color on 81 North, a visit to the Severn River, and views of blue sky and birds were thwarted by heavy rain this weekend. Our seven-hour drive to Maryland took nine hours on Friday but we didn't complain. We left Charlotte early Friday morning in heavy rain and it continued through Saturday morning in Maryland. Several inches soaked the region and that's a blessing, as the foliage is shiny and clean and has raised up to blue sky.


I tried.

Dad was sleeping in his bed on Friday and the sight of us standing before him made his eyes twinkle. He knew who stood before him but names come slowly… Earlier in the week, his younger sisters brought him rich chocolates wrapped in foil and other sweets for his 82nd birthday. I don’t know how he managed to consume the entire gift but by the time my brother and his family arrived, Dad was violently sick from overindulging. I opted to send balloons – a more reasonable gift for a man who doesn’t care about or understand moderation. Before we left him on Friday, I asked him if he needed or wanted anything since I would be back on Saturday.

“How about bringing me some chocolates?”

Yeah, right, Dad. I brought him a Hershey bar and offered him only one bite.

There was a bittersweet moment on our leaving a little while later. Dad told Michael how proud he was of him and on our way out of his room, he said to us in his weakened voice, “I love you…I love you…I love you…” I held back tears on the way to the car.


Saturday was a good day. We arrived to find him with others congregated in the hallway near the nurses' station, but he wasn’t socializing as he normally would. Instead, his chin was slumped on his chest - snoring. We wheeled him all around the facility and found a nice spot to sit and talk for a long time. I helped him with his lunch, making him wait for the vanilla ice cream cup until he finished the chicken. It's not easy finding subjects to engage him in conversation but it went quite well. I loved hearing his belly laugh.

When I think there is little left of him, he proves me wrong. Throughout his entire life, there is a question we could always count on him asking. Always interested in the cost of things, he’d inquire, “What did you give for that?”


He was admiring my camera and commented, “That’s a fancy camera you have there. What did you give for that?”

Michael and I exchanged glances and howled. Dad is Dad, no doubt.

My plans to show him photos went awry when my photo printer refused to cooperate. He enjoyed the photos stored on my camera so I am going to work on a photo album for him as a Christmas gift. Large photos with large captions. He’ll love it as much as I will enjoy creating it!

We were busy on Saturday visiting my brother and his family, Mom’s grave, and spending time with our dear friends in Severna Park who opened their house to us for the weekend. We had a great time with them including a terrific dinner in downtown Baltimore at a restaurant in Canton called Mama’s on the Half Shell for a Maryland seafood fix. Later we went to a wild Halloween party which contributed to an ugly early morning wake-up call for our trip home on Sunday morning.


Our friends are building a magnificent new house on the Magothy River. I can only dream


of a view like this.

They have a beautiful yard in their current home but birds don’t visit. If I offered them a feeder, they would probably refuse. Without birds, I focused on floating leaves after the rains.


Oops. Michael met a Maryland Trooper on the way home. Now we are even. I met one in Virginia a year ago. Troopers love out-of-state drivers.


Homecoming is sweet. Their feeders needed filling

and they waited for me.

I sorted laundry into two piles and found Chloe in the dining room with a pair of my panties dangling from her mouth. She was delighted with her prize.

A tug of war began.

Bella won the war but quickly surrendered to the chief. I do not tolerate broken elastic on brand new panties.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a very much needed visit and glad your father responded as he did! I think a photo album would be a perfect Christmas present! Also, you need to look at your bird photos again, the one on the left with the goldfinch is a pine siskin! Maybe a lifer for you?? This is a great winter finch invasion of them this year and looks like you have them already (before I have even found one)!

Q said...

Dear Mary,
I am gald you are home safe and sound! Your visit went well! It is hard. Yep, your Dad is still your Dad! I so remember how seeing my Mom was sweet and sad.
Real rain! That is very sweet. Hope you can get some rest this week.
Wow! A Pine Siskin! That would be a lifer for me! Not only were the birds waiting for you newcomers arrived.
Your idea of the Christmas photo album is super. Your Dad will enjoy it. Fun for you to make too.

Mary said...

Monarch - I love you! I knew that olive green back was different but haven't taken the time to investigate... Yes, a lifer! Saw more today and a white-throated sparrow is back.

Sherry - Yes, it was a good visit but a tiring trip. Now I need to catch up with everyone's blog! No rest until the weekend...

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It is good to hear that your trip went well and you made it home safe and sound.

NatureWoman said...

Glad to hear your visit with your Dad went so well Mary! It is so nice to hear those words "I Love You" from your Dad, isn't it? Those words that Dads don't seem to be able to say too often, but you know they do love you.
A photo album will be awesome for your Dad. Ohhh, look at your friends' new home, OMG. Looks like it's going to be a castle.
Ewww, an out of state trooper. I'd hate to know how much an out of state ticket costs.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Pine siskins in NC!!! Mary! You have it!

New panties...what are those?

Carol Michel said...

Sounds like a delightful visit, and you got some rain, too. Yeah! Congrats on the new bird to add to your lifer list. I wish I knew more about birds!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

KGMom said...

Mary--such a mixture. The joy & pain of seeing your dad. So hard to watch the dads who have been the rocks in our lives slowly fade away, isn't it.
And then your friend's new house--but without birds, can it really be a home?
And your dogs helping you sort the laundry. Hmmmm--what a funny shot of the girls fighting over your panties.

Susie said...

Glad your visit went as well as it did. Seeing our parents like that is just never easy to do.
Your friend's home looks huge and what an amazing view.
Your dogs looks like they had fun at the expense of your panties..

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
I'm so glad you and your dad were able to enjoy a good visit. My dad likes to know what I "give" for stuff too....he starts off the inquiry with, "do you mind if I ask?" and then I have to admit that new windchime cost over $200, 'cuz I can't lie to my dad!

I was happy to see that pine siskin at your feeder too, and it looks like lots of people recognized your good new bird!

I'm so glad you've gotten some rain--every little bit helps and hopefully things will continue in a wet mode for a while.

But you saved the best till last--Chloe and Bella playing panty tug o' war. I'm glad you sacrificed a new pair for those "priceless" pictures.

Mary said...

It's either panties or socks that die in my house. There is never a dull moment with two BTs. They were so happy to see us return but I think they wanted to make us pay for leaving them :o)

JeanMac said...

Oh, Mary, it was so good to see pictures of your Dad! I love the chocolate story but the panties tug o war beats all.
The album is a wonderful idea - he'll love it.
Glad you have rain and Michael even got to "chat" with a trooper:)

LostRoses said...

Mary, a photo album with nice big captions is a great idea for your dad - he can't "overindulge" in that!

Wow, that's some castle, er - house! Looks like some fine plant windows too. But no birds? Can't be very homey without them.

The dogs and your panties? Ha ha ha!

kate said...

I'm glad the visit with your dad went well and that you carried away some good memories. He looks happy in the pictures. Your bird pictures are, as always, fun to see ...

The Hallowe'en party sounds as if it was great!

Unknown said...

Mary, thank you for sharing your visit with your dad -- bittersweet but still sweet. Congrats on the pine siskin and thank you for the belly laugh I got at the pic of Bella with your undies dangling.

Mary C said...

I'm glad you made it home safely, Mary. I'm also glad to hear that your visit with your dad was good. Great idea - making him a photo album. You'll enjoy making that for him, and he'll so enjoy receiving it. And to think, it will outlast chocolate. ;o) Oh, I'm envious, you are seeing pine siskins already! I think it has to be colder here before I see any - and that's if they are heading this far south on the West Coast. They don't always make the trip this far south every year; and I haven't seen any for two years. Bella and Chloe sure look happy to see you return!

Naturegirl said...

Ahh Mary you always put a smile on my face when I visit! Love the tug of panties! Man that house you said it..
Dream dream dream of a house like this!LoVe the rounded windows I dream of having an office with windows like this perhaps next house..dreaming again.

It was a pleasure to meet your dad with the photos you shared with us!
Smart man "bring me chocolate!"
That is comfort food for the soul Mary! You made wonderful memories with your dad. Bless you and your dad..hugs Anna xo

Alyssa said...

Your visit sounds like a time filled with all sorts of emotions. Your father still has a twinkle in his eyes that gives me a hint of what he used to be like. He'll surely love to see your photos - it'll be a wonderful Christmas gift. That home under construction is something! Love all those windows.

Jayne said...

Glad you all had a good visit Mary and that you could find ways to enjoy your dad, even though the memories are hard. Love and hugs to you.

Beth said...

Girl, you never cease to amaze me. How you can start a post with heart-wrenching tales and photos of a lovely, much-loved man - and then end it with a photo of your underwear...sheesh! Only you, Mary, have the creative intelligence to make that work!

Great post - I've been looking forward to what you'd have to share after your trip. Beautiful shots of the birds, your handsome father, the rain, your intimate apparel...

The tone of your post sounds refreshed. I hope that is accurate - you deserve it!

Now go buy yourself some new undies - maybe a thong! Bella and Chloe might enjoy that...

dguzman said...

Aw, Mary--moderation is for those young whippersnappers! So great you got to hear him say he loves you. My heart is warmed just thinking about it.

Glad you had a nice trip and some rain. Your friends' house is going to be amazing! I'll have to show that pic to Kat; she hates boring old square cookie-cutter houses.

Oooh, I love those cute puppies of yours!

Chrissie said...

Oh Mary, I do love your posts. You always save that last photo and surprise us with a laugh LOL.

Sherry said...

Mary, I'm glad you had a safe trip and a good visit with your Dad. The photo album sounds like a great idea, and something he will enjoy.

I laughed out loud at your photos of the dogs and the panties! :)

Anonymous said...

Mary, I love reading about your time with your dad. Little characteristic quirks, little moments of humor, lots of love.

Anonymous said...

So glad that you had a good visit with your dad, and I too, think the album would be a wonderful gift.

One of my friends OD'd on chocolate last year at Easter. I don't think she will do that again.

Do you think you got enough rain to do any good? I sure hope so.

Mary said...

Sandy, we received several inches of rain - maybe 5.5 actually. The most rain we've seen since May. We are still in an exceptional drought and the warnings of Stage Four are coming. If we get four or five more storms like the one we had over the next two months, we'll be OK.

Mary said...

Mary so glad you had such a good visit to see your father.

LauraHinNJ said...

Ohh he looks fine and happy to be with you, Mary!

Glad you had a nice visit and some rain to boot.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

So glad you were able to have a happy time with your dad--it's those memories that sustain us.
Our previous dog (cockapoo) used to raid our bedroom for prized playthings, too! It's always important to be sure panties are not under the dining room table, if company drops by!

sonia a. mascaro said...

I am glad to hear that your visit with your Dad went very well! I like his photo!

LOL! Bella and Chloe are cute and funny playing with the panties!

Kerri Farley said...

Wow Mary! You had me crying at the beginning and laughing at the end! Whew!

I think I saw one of these pine siskins yesterday -- I'll try to post it later this week. I didn't realize that was what it was.

Susan Gets Native said...

I feel like I am never going to catch up on all my bloggy-buddies. Mon@rch beat me to the siskin point-out. I got them for the first time ever this year too.
What's next? Penguins in Indiana?

The picture of your Dad made me tear up big time.

Naturegirl said...

Trick or treat!
((((((((HAPPY HALLOWEEN)))))
I just flew in on a witches broom!
I am having a blast visiting all the
(((GOULS))) in Bloglandia!

Larry said...

I'm glad that the visit with your dad went well. Nice location for a home.-What's a yard without birds though?-No thanks.

Cathy said...

Bless you, Mary. It must be so tough saying goodbye. I do see a twinkle in your dad's blue eyes. Bless him, too.

Those pups! It's worth a pair of panties to get pictures like those. Thanks for sharing :0)