Tuesday, August 15, 2006

speaking of home...

After my father retired in October, he didn't quite know what he wanted to do. He tossed around ideas like going back to Florida and even buying property in France, but he ultimately bought a house in the town where he was born and where his mother lives.

The house, only five minutes away from Grandma's "farm" and down the street from the hospital, is a lovely 1965 ranch style home that sits on a good sized piece of land. He bought it "as is" with the goal of doing the few necessary renovations himself, not to mention having his own yard to tend to - something he's been missing after ten years of apartment living.

Of course, even when he moved in a few months ago, he was too sick to even contemplate doing any of these things, and while he is gaining strength back at an impressive speed, he has needed a lot of help just to make the house liveable. Before we arrived, his cousin replaced the toilets, and as soon as we arrived we went straight to work. Steph took out the sliding glass doors in Dad's shower and we've made some adjustments there to make bathing a safer and easier experience, and I've been trying to clean out the office. My mother (who died last year) was a meticulous record keeper; so much so that I've been wading through over thirty years of records that my father just doesn't have space for. The pack rat in me cringes to toss out papers that are interesting but have no value, but if anyone wants to know what an income tax form from 1969 looks like, don't be afraid to ask.

Yet another project is unpacking a few boxes of knick-knacks that were sitting in the empty formal living room. Some of them belonged to my mother's mother, who is barely still with us, suffering from severe dementia in a nursing home. Some of them are souvenirs from Dad's travels around the world. Since Dad is wanting a less-cluttered life, my sister and I are in the process of splitting up these family mementos. I've been handling all this surprisingly well, until I came across a batch of photographs of my parents and I around the time of the imminent arrival of my sister. I sometimes forget what a handsome couple my parents made and to see my mother young and beautiful again shocked me into tears. This reminds me of another project that's going to have to wait until my next visit: I plan to take all of the loose photographs, some of which are a hundred years old, and scan them for posterity. So much to do in so little time.

Meanwhile, Dad seems to be getting steadily stronger. We had a small setback with some funky side affects of one of the treatments, so he's taking a break for a week and will likely start again with a smaller dose. Even so, Dad is maintaining his positive attitude and even said that he's looking forward to my next visit (which will most likely be for the holidays if we don't have any surprises) when he can get out and do more stuff with me and my sister. To see him fighting and trying to improve makes me the most proud of him I've ever been in my life.

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