Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Old Man

I treated him to lunch at the Tamarind Tree

..crispy shrimp with sweet potato in lettuce wrap

Crispy rice crepe

Green papaya salad

He wanted me to take a picture of him eating...we both wanted to remember the experience

The day before I shared my City with him...

My favorite coffee shop...

In the City, window washers descend from high, like baby spiders leaving their nest

I wait in the bank lobby, watching my old man, trying to see what others see. Just like any other old man. Except he is my old man.

After post Christmas window shopping we grab lunch in the Market Pub. We sit at the bar because we can. Neither of us is carded :(

Lots to choose from at the vegetable stalls, even though it is winter

We taste hand made cheeses and select a few for him to take home

We buy avocados for our crab Louis (with Market crab) that we will make later at home

And buy mangoes, sweet honey mangoes for dessert

We also saw fabulously interesting exhibits at the SAM on Michelangelo, featuring several of his small sketches and studies for the Sistine Chapel work, and an exhibit of photographs by Imogen Cunningham. That was a really wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

We watched together "Julie and Julia" on Pay Per View. He hadn't seen it before. He was so inspired he picked up "The Art of French Cooking" (J.C.) at the bookstore the next day.

I put him on a plane early this morning. I am glad for the time we had together. I am also worn out and looking forward to alone time when I get home after work.

I have so many mixed feelings about time with my father. I am not sure where it comes from, but it feels like he brings out the worst in me. When I want to be my best.

Thankfully, I don't think he notices this: that I am at my worst.

I try to engage but engaging means being talked to...not with. Eventually I tune out. Fortunately he does not notice. Then I eventually just quiet up. When that gets strenuous I plant a leading topic and he takes off again. I tune out again.

I do not like the competitive feelings that are unleashed in me. A couple of times over the last few days I heard myself thinking "damn it, I want to impress him."

At least I know he loves me. He loves me fully and would do anything for me. He loves all of his children fully and generously. He loves the best way he can. But behind that love is his natural self which is a little (OK, maybe alot) self absorbed and competitive.

I took him to see my office. I like my space, and honestly on a day to day basis am not aware that my office is the second largest in our suite, with lots of windows and nice furniture. It's an impressive space, if I do say so myself. But this doesn't matter...except when my father is involved. And I heard myself for the first time thinking "does he notice that this is a big office with a view?" He noticed. He said "this is a big office." He looked out the window. He said "not much of a view. Too bad you can't see the water." I pointed out where the water view had been when we moved in, before the new building blocked the water view. That little voice in me said "I want him to be impressed, damn it!" (I also told myself to just package that thought and I could examine it later when I do my post father visit decompression...on the calendar for tonight with a bottle of wine.)

We drove around in my mini. Darted in and out of traffic. Found parking in places other cars could not consider. But, like fingers on a chalkboard, I got a blow by blow comparison of his beloved Prius with every feature of my car. I almost had to laugh. Almost. And would have if I hadn't been so steamed.

As if to drive home the point, just as we are pulling into the departures curb at the airport a huge, three story billboard lauding the wonderful newest Prius model shouts down at us. There is no avoiding it. I say "Oh look. There's your car." I look over and he is wearing a look like the cat that just ate the canary. That's how I interpret it, anyway.

And really, why do I care? um, because "I want to impress him." It's sad really when I find myself in a world of focus on office size, or the kind of car I drive, or shame that I don't have a man in my house. This is the bringing out the worst in me that I'm talking about. Why can't I rest in the knowledge that he loves me (he tells me so as I kiss him goodbye at the airport)? Why can't I enjoy his company as much as he enjoys his company? ;-)

I am grateful that he is basically a happy man. He's healthy and active. Nobody believes that he's 82. He's not a complainer. He's independent and pretty fearless. He often sings to himself or whistles. Sometimes he forgets where he is when he is doing this. I exchanged sly smiles with strangers several times this past few days as Dad was happily humming (loudly) away as we waited in lines, or walked along. This is really his essence. The bad feelings part are mine to own, not his.

Despite the difficult feelings, I will miss him when I don't have him anymore. Hopefully that is a long way off.

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