Friday, September 30, 2011


It’s almost funny the number of noises that emanate from general area of my father up to and including his dog Lulu.  Not only are there the previously mentioned toxic fumes but there are also random bursts of what I can only describe as auditory clatter.  For example, he has recently begun singing, apropos of nothing, the 1960s song “Brand New Key”.  You know, the “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates; you’ve got a brand new key…”song?  I don’t know why either.  Of course it’s preferable to his usual song of choice which starts with that timeless phrase, “I don’t know but I’ve been told, a green grasshopper has a red…”  I’ll leave the last word to the mysteries parked in his noggin, y’all.
There are also the staccato bursts of whistling which, although impressive, occur at random times that tend to startle one such as me; someone who is used to a quiet little abode.  I didn’t realize that old people are loud people.   Not only just with the level of sound needed for them to enjoy the TV, but just the loudness of the talking, the coughing, and the wheezing.  Hold on a minute, I think he needs his inhaler.  Sometimes I can’t tell if he’s having a bronchial incident, as the ER docs call it, or if he’s just practicing his pre-pout huffing.  And he is an Olympic level pouter my friends.  It's truly astonishing.  The fact that he’s lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks is lost on him.  His only focus is that he has only been allowed one soda since he arrived.  I explained to him that diabetics can’t have regular soda.  Since he refuses to drink diet soda because of the “aftertaste”, he can’t have any at all.  What aftertaste he’s referring to is beyond me, since he is a big fan of Sweet and Low and everybody knows that tastes like old lady; you know like White Shoulders and baby powder.  Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, the noise level doesn’t abate even when he begins to slumber, which occurs at any given time of the day or night.  He sleeps in bursts, like an overworked programmer for Microsoft or some other Silicon Valley company.  Every couple of hours he’ll nod off and then suddenly wake up like that girl did in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta gave her the adrenaline shot.  You know, when she jumped and gasped?  Although he adds a look of accusatory confusion that says “where am I and what happened to my sandwich?” 
I already discussed our TV tastes and the fact that we have agreed to “play pretty” and allow each other to watch our favorite shows from time to time.  Being a non-regular viewer of TV, but a hard core user of Netflix, I am usually exceedingly generous with the remote.  However, I have grown used to the habit of enjoying my disks on Tuesdays and Saturdays and watching each disk the day it comes in and returning it the next day.  Obviously all the selections in my queue were chosen long before this co-habitation was even a glimmer of an idea in the back of my mind.  And even though he enjoyed the Burn Notice Season 4 marathon, he does not care for multiple episodes of Big Bang Theory, also Season 4, which I purchased or The New Sherlock Holmes, which I Netflixed. 
He decided to be polite and said, “This show is not in’tresting me at all, so I’m gonna take a nap ‘til you get your fill.”  That seemed awfully benevolent; until the snoring began.  Both he a Lulu are mouth breathers in the literal sense.  She because of her boston terrier heritage (short snout) and he because of the numerous nose breakings throughout his life, from incidences and allegations the likes of which even he will not disclose.  And this reticence is from a man who had a conversation that veered from flatulence to the Playboy channel in his initial conversation with my assistant, Marie.  Thank goodness she’s good natured and not litigious.  
And the snoring not only began in earnest it crescendoed to the point that I had to leave the room as I couldn’t turn up the volume enough to hear it without waking the slumbering duo and I just flat out refuse to use closed captioning on any program spoken in English.  I'll gladly read a foreign film, but my "fanciness" has boundaries, y'all.
I was forced from the room like a despot from his third world throne although the noise from those unhappy mobs is no match for the chaotic symphony of numerous sleep-interrupting horks, the loud, metallic pwangs and wooden plomps of his recliner being declined (is that the opposite of recline?) and the random snorffs (that's a snort and sniff combo) of both father and dog.  At least I'm used to them now.  The first night he lived here and got up to use the bathroom at around 2:00 am, I thought somebody was trying to break in the house and "git" me and I near about wet myself before I realized that if my intended captor was making that much noise, it wouldn't take much effort to escape. 
Throughout the evening, I've been trying to think of a way to bring this whole thought home and maybe make some sense of the situation, but I've come to realize, it'snot really that simple.  There's not always a Family Ties-esque synopsis that both educates and entertains.  Truth is, he's old and loud and set in his ways.  I can be downright persnickety and am more set in my ways than I ever imagined or admitted.  But we're family and you make do with the cards you're dealt.  At least that's what Kenny Rogers taught us and although some days I may feel ready to run, I'm not ready to fold 'em just yet.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Me, you and the Boob Tube

For those who asked, the soup was pretty good.  I tried a little the day he cooked it and it’s a good thing I did as he finished off the entire pot by the next evening.  I’ve never seen so much food eaten so quickly since the last time I watched ‘Man vs. Food’.  And he wasn’t even trying for a shirt or to get his picture on a wall. 
He has been trying to get me to buy a painting of a cowboy for my living room.  When I questioned which particular painting, he said “Oh, just any of ‘em.  Everybody needs a cowboy picture”.  Untrue.  I do not need a cowboy picture, not even if it was an original Andy Warhol of Elvis as a gunslinger.  The decorating scheme of my living room is a modified art deco meets thrift store chic.  It’s quirky.  Cowboy anything is not quirky.  Cowboys wouldn’t call me quirky, even at church.  That’s just not how they talk.  What some of the called me behind my back and even to my face occasionally, is better left to history.  I can’t really blame them; after all I did dye my top-siders aqua blue and use Madonna in my successful campaign for Sophomore Class Reporter.  Apparently “Desperately Seeking Dusty” resonated with somebody besides me.  And this was at a consolidated high school with around 250 students in Northeast Texas.  I must have been insane.  Most of the people that knew me must have thought I was some sort of social experiment.  I wonder if they wondered if they were all on Candid Camera.  My sister used to tell everyone I was adopted.   I used to joke that the only thing my Daddy and I had in common was the belief that I was adopted.  And that’s become more apparent as we enter our third week as roommates.
I knew there would be a learning curve living with someone in their 70s.  And while he and I have never really been on the same page, I thought I had a reasonable idea of who he was based on the fact that I have visited with him several times a year since my mother died in 2000.  Truth be told, we’ve never been in the same section of the library, y’all.  But I tried to combine the new him of the visits with my memories of who he was when I was growing up and the reports from my brother and sister-in-law with whom he shared a home for the immediately preceding two years.  None of this prepared me for the reality show that is my father. 
He is an enigma, wrapped in bacon, swathed in big ’n’ tall men’s denim.  The overbearing, judgmental and downright scary father of my childhood has somehow morphed into an aged, slightly depressed version of Dan Conner from ‘Roseanne’; all bathroom humor and false bravado.
His complaints are both understandable and irritating.  He wants to be in Alabama without being in Alabama.  I just want him to assimilate as quickly as I do.  He wants me to be a housewife from the 50s armed with a war chest of carb-heavy comfort food recipes and slotted spoons.  I just want him to change 70 years of eating habits overnight.  I want a roommate; he wants a Southern June Cleaver.  Other than a tendency to be over-dressed while cleaning, June Cleaver I shall never be.  Although if you read my book (A Gone Pecan – available at your favorite on-line retailer) you might think I certainly sound like a middle-aged woman.  Quacking like a duck doesn’t make me a duck, dear friends; it simply makes me duck-esque.  Duck-onic if you will.     
You must forgive this digression.  I am trying to collect my thoughts while the entire nation of Guatemala is celebrating something in the parking lot of the El Rancho Supermercado y Tacqueria across the street from my neighborhood.  Supermercado is Spanish for Supermarket.  As far as I can tell, Tacqueria is Spanish for “add cheese”.  And you know I’m on board for that.  If you put a boot in a casserole dish, topped it with cheese and set it out at a Fifth Sunday Dinner on the Grounds, I’d do my darnedest to eat it. 
TV seems to be the one area where we’re willing to compromise.  I have been subjected to boxing, football and re-runs of America’s Funniest Home Videos.  He’s been subjected to Project Runway, Dr. Who and Drop Dead Diva.  We both like Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Bait Car.  The Judds may think love can build a bridge, but so can TV, y’all.  And any chasm can be bridged with a shared enemy, ya’ll.  I have never agreed with him more than just now when he said, “Them people need to turn that mess down.” 
Amen, Daddy.  I mean, we’re trying to watch funny home videos over here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Soup Nazi?

It has happened.  We have had our first tiff.  And it was over a request for hamburger soup, if you can believe that.  As someone who rarely, until recently, cooked, I have more than my share of top-shelf kitchen accoutrement courtesy of my best friend Christopher’s culinary prowess and former position as manager of a Sur La Table.  For those not in the know, SLT is like Williams-Sonoma.  For those readers who are still in the dark, I always referred to SLT as a hooty-tooty Wal-Mart for kitchen crap.  Maybe I am more country than I thought?  Like any good Southern Baptist, the next sound will be that of a disconcerting truth being vanquished.  It’s like extra cheese on a casserole; bad for you in the long run, but oh so pleasant right now.
Even though I am not a gourmand by anyone’s definition, I felt I was reasonably equipped to take on most any cooking request, this side of risotto.  I mean, I have a small copper pot solely to melt butter.  Yes, Virginia, those chef people ARE crazy.
Anyway, my Dad was visiting me at my office, waiting for his doctor’s appointment and stated, out of the blue, that he wanted to make hamburger soup.  When I asked the day he planned for this event, he said, “Tonight.”  I asked what he needed to make this soup and he rattled off a list of ingredients that were familiar enough to me to know that I had exactly none of them in my home.
So, I pulled out my trusty list making tools and began quizzing him on what he needed and informing him that if he wanted to make this soup tonight we would be eating later than usual as the most important ingredient for soup was a “soup pot”, which I do not possess.  Based on his description, the only person that would have one that size is a witch doctor from Scooby-Doo.  He pretty much described a stainless steel 1977 Caprice Classic station wagon with “hannels on the side so I won’t burn myself”.
I also informed him that I also did not own a ladle, slotted spoon, 4 cans of Veg-All or a container of salt.  After he stared at me with a mixture of condescension and pity, I made another error.  When I attempted to sway him to use ground turkey instead of ground beef, as it would be better for him, he looked at me with a look of horror that can only be described as akin to those Republicans make when they realize that poor people and minorities actually vote.
He said, savoring each word like the contraband M&Ms I found in his room. “I. WILL.  NOT.  PUT.  TURKEY.  IN.  MY.  HAMBURGER.  SOUP!”  Then hamburger it shall be.  He has made a number of dietary changes since he’s been here.  We’ve cut out most sugar and salt and almost all fried foods.  We have also eliminated soda and he’s lost 11 pounds in 2 weeks!  I should have my own show, people.  Start the on-line campaign.
And I know I should have left well enough alone, but I’m not afraid to nudge a little further if it’s for the greater good.  I’ll re-create the conversation ver batim, which is Latin for “only a twerp would remember a conversation word for word”.
“If you want to use hamburger, then you at least need to reduce the number of crackers you eat with it.” 
                “Your doctor said to reduce your carbs.”
                “What’s carbs?”
                “Well, bread for one.”
                “Crackers aren’t bread.”
                “Yes, they are.”
                “What do you mean how?  What do you think crackers are?”
                “Crackers are crackers.  They’re not bread.”
                “Are you kidding?”
                “Well, I guess you learned that in college?”
                “What are you talking about?  Everybody knows crackers are bread.”
                “I don’t.”
                “That may be, but they are and you eat too many of them.”
                “How many is too many?”
                “You should have like 6 or 7 with your soup.  The saltines you like are about 10 calories each.”
                “6 or 7!?!  I can eat that many putting the soup in my bowl.”
                “I know.  That’s why you’ve got this right here,” I said poking his belly, which he hates because he is hyper-ticklish.  Seriously, I should film him and post it on YouTube. 
                “Just forget it.  I don’t even want soup anymore.”  And then he made as dramatic an exit as you can make while riding in an electric wheelchair with the speed set on “turtle”.
                Cut to me buying the above-mentioned items.  He’s making the soup tonight.  I’ll let you know how it tastes. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Suspenders and a Hospital Gown...

Having an elderly parent move in with you is not like getting a roommate.  It’s like adopting a teenager with habits that reach back to the 1950s, y’all.  He doesn’t want to eat anything that even vaguely mentions a lack of sugar or fat.  I swear if he found a can of cake frosted lard he’d buy it.  Dont' get me wrong.  I’m not saying that wouldn’t be good, but there’s no reason to kill oneself in one weekend.  Now, he did ask me to put him on a diet.  I explained that losing weight is not a matter of dieting; it’s a lifestyle change.  He seemed nervous with that choice of phrase.  I’ve been able to show him, in just a few days, how to do portion control and stop eating once you are no longer hungry, not waiting until you feel full.  I forgot how many of those rules I let slide because just monitoring my intake since last Tuesday, I’ve lost 2 pounds.  Once he gets under 300, we can weigh him and see how much he’s lost.  It’s not that I’m being rude; my scale only goes up to 300 pounds.
And his requests for meals have been oddly specific with the expectation that they will all be filled post haste or even sooner.  Meatloaf and lima beans.  Which I found at a German place.  Catfish, hushpuppies and banana pudding.  Which I found across the street from my neighborhood no less).  It’s a good thing that I am the king of the culinary treasure hunt. He has requested hamburger steak and even though I found a place that has smothered steak with rice, he said it’s not the same because he wants potatoes not rice.  Considering he’s living on the West Coast and not Alabama, you’d think he’d settle for a reasonable facsimile but you’d be wrong.  I mean I’ve had to adjust to the fact that there is no cheese dip in California outside of a jar at the Safeway and other than a couple of hissy fits and some pouting, I’ve been fine.
Speaking of bad diets, we went to the emergency room last night. It wasn't specifically related to his weight but the litany of woe that makes up his physical state.  It was an interesting cap to an interesting day. He asked is I would drive him to the doctor.  He said he was afraid he’d get lost on his way to the VA where I work and his appointment would be.   Fear from a man who just drove from Alabama to California in three and a half days with no map.  A man who voluntarily jumped out of airplanes in the Army.  Who owned a hot pink welding truck.  Who got a perm on a dare when I was  four.  Who went deer hunting armed with toenail clippers and self-confidence.  Who brazenly mixes stripes and plaids.  I'm kidding (but only about the deer hunting) but you see how his request threw me for a loop.
However, the request to drive him was one I had no problem granting.  I mean, his doctor’s office was in the same building as my department so my time away from work would be minimal.  I asked if he wanted to go with me in the morning (his appointment was at 1:30) and spend the day at the VA acclimating himself to the area and enjoying the farmer’s market we have every Wednesday.  Once I explained that the cafeteria offered both biscuits AND gravy, no more convincing was needed.
So, I drove his pickup which smelled strongly of feet, dog food and contraband cheetos because he needed to use his power wheelchair and my car is not equipped for that.  Clad in my three-piece suit, I drove a pickup for the first time since I was forced to learn to drive a standard on the column feed truck when I was abandoned in a field by my feed store co-workers the summer after my senior year in high school.  I was country when country wasn’t cool.  Has country every really been cool?
We got to the VA, headed to the cafeteria and met with our first roadblock of the day. No biscuits for the gravy. He was half-heartedly offered an English muffin with gravy but even the cafeteria lady who suggested it seemed to know it was an odd suggestion and our encounter became awkward until I blamed “California hippies” and we all laughed and he ordered a quasi-Denver omelette with sausage instead of ham.  I left him happily munching and reading his book about the FBI’s plot to bring down Al Capone; your typical light breakfast reading.  We then went to the Farmer’s Market and my visited offices where he met my staff and bonded with my assistant, Marie, over their shared demotions in the military due to violence toward and/or disrespect of officers.  Guess I better learn to keep my sarcastic comments to myself lest I feel the wrath that apparently is resting right under the surface of the two people who know the details of my schedule and floor plan of my home. 
After lunch, he went to the doctor and after about an hour, they called me and said they are taking him to the emergency room due to labored breathing and I rush to meet them there.  He’s sitting in his wheelchair, slightly stooped due to a bad back and somewhat irritated due to Irish heritage.
We sit there while they perform a battery of tests and take a rather large sampling of fluids.  They force him to take off his shirt and put on a hospital gown but he insists on wearing his suspenders over the gown.  When they protest I explain, it’s either that or the full moon, as it were.  Those wide pieces of forest green elastic are the only thing between a reasonably amicable but oddly dressed patient and a naked and irritated redneck.  I told them if it was all the same to them, I’d prefer the keep at least a layer of denim between his flatulence and my immediate air space.  And seeing as how the face masks weren’t distributed based on who was best dressed and/or physically closest to the patient, I needed some assistance, do you hear me.  I mean, my hair was starting to involuntarily perm.
However, the oddest moment came when they wanted to perform a blood gas test and he winced at the needle.  This from a diabetic who self-injects insulin four times a day.  He likened the pain to being shot in the butt, which he consequently admitted had happened to him on more than one vaguely felonious occasion before my mother agreed to marry and remove him from the mean streets of Epps, LA, population 215, if you count cows, dogs and slow-moving squirrels.
With his admission, the “real pretty Indian doctor lady” asked if I were his attorney.  I was confused until I looked down and realized I was still in my three piece suit with matching socks, tie and pocket square and he was outfitted in what I've come to describe as "slighlty medicated, topless Hee Haw extra".  I laughed and said, “No, I’m his son.  Thank goodness I didn’t inherit the ‘hood’ gene."  I mean, the only 'shot' I've ever been is through the heart by someone who gave love a bad name.  (every story needs a Bon Jovi reference, right?)  He laughed and said, “Yeah, his Mama is what made him turn out so good.  You know he’s run a department here?  He’s real smart.”
It was in that very second that I realized that while he is very vocal about his pride in my accomplishments, I don’t think I have ever reciprocated.  I thought about how he came from nothing and worked his fingers to the bone, literally up to the point where he hurt his back off-shore just to make sure his family had what they needed.  I thought about how he scrimped and saved to buy me a new car in college and how hurt he must’ve been when it was repossessed after his accident and his workman’s comp check was much less than his normal pay.  All I could think about at the time was how mad and embarrassed I was; I didn't stop to think how it affected him.  He has his faults to be sure but for someone who got his GED in the Army, it was never a question of if I were going to college, it was when and where.  It was practically pre-determined that I would be successful.  He never wanted me to follow in his footsteps; he wanted the best for me.  He told me he knew I was going to "besomebody" when I was in elementary school.  All I remember is never wanting to be him.
And I felt ashamed for ever thinking that being him wouldn’t have been good enough; for always making sure everyone knew how different we were, when in actuality we aren’t so different.  We’re very similar, at least on the inside.  We both want to make people laugh and to take care of those we love and we’d give our last dime to help somebody.  I’m not sure why I never saw that. 
Wearing Calvin Klein suits and having a color-coordinated life doesn’t make me better than anyone.
And although I’d like to think if God were to choose a "look" it'd be from the 2011 Brooks Brothers Black Fleece collection, I have a sneaking (Baptist) suspicion he might be wearing a John Deere hat or, at the very least, jeans.  Maybe I’ll start  borrowing my Daddy’s boots every once in a while.  You know, just in case.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

More Funk than George Clinton

Other than an exponential increase in toilet paper usage that would indicate the arrival of a small family of refugees, the routine hasn’t been a huge adjustment.  I guess it’s because we are in the vacation phase of any move.  You know, the time when you don’t actually feel like you’ve really moved; you just feel like you’re on vacation?  I mean, we’ve eaten out and shopped which is typical of the agenda when anyone visits me.  We’ve been thrift store shopping and shoe shopping (it’s been a long time since I ran across anyone not homeless who only had one pair of shoes) and grocery shopping. 
One thing that he has shared more than I would have liked is his, shall we say, aroma.  The array and frequency of the discharge from his person is both frightening and awe-inspiring.  Like if you saw Queen Elizabeth on the toilet.  Now, I hoped I wouldn’t have to devolve into so pedestrian a topic so soon but as I write, my eyes are burning a bit, my trusty Febreze bottle is gently weeping next to me and the Glade Room Deodorizer is giving me downright dirty looks.  They are working overtime and making little headway to curtail the odor in the room that has recently been designated a Hot Zone by the JFSB.  That’s Judgmental Former Southern Baptist for those not in the know; otherwise known as me.  I mean it’s not like I am without sin in this arena, but this funk has grown like an over-caffeinated kudzu, people.  And it’s keeping me on my toes too.  Each and every time he gets up from his chair, which is fairly often due to his water pills, I leap into action like those Nascar crews.  I jump up Febreze bottle in hand and spray like one of those aggressive perfume-tester girls who used to inhabit fine department stores nationwide.  I try to ensure I finish the job before he comes back; I don’t want to be rude. Of course, he has caught on as hia chair is a bit moist when he sits again.  I almost had him convinced the moisture was from him but he very sagely concluded it had to have been “your little smell good squirty bottle” as he would “…never pee myself.  I might dirty myself if I farted too hard…”  I’ll spare you the remainder of his musing. 
Of course, I can’t pretend that I am not guilty of the occasional offense.  Those of you from my fraternity should read this with mute admiration and refrain from commenting lest I e-mail your wives with tales of transgressions long ago.  Just sayin’.  However, when I retreat to another room for my discourse, as it were, upon my return he announces, “I heard that!” followed by raucous laughter, which is then followed by a coughing fit which seems to be de rigueur for the elderly.  But even while he’s coughing and laughing in tandem, he is pointing and judging.  Maybe that’s where I get it?
We are having a good time, I must admit.  It’s been fun to show him “my world”, as he calls it.  I keep forgetting he hasn’t seen any place I’ve ever lived since I moved from Biloxi in 2002.  I always saw him at my sister’s, my brother’s or his sister’s. We’ve shopped for a number of things from bath mats to ice trays because he has an issue with drinks that don’t look cold enough.  He makes his hems and haws about me not doing anything special for him, but I know he enjoys it and so do I.  I love to find a bargain and that I can immediately brag about it is priceless y’all.  We both got shoes (tennis and house) yesterday and then I broiled pork chops and steamed some veggies for supper.  I thought about trying to avoid obvious instigators like broccoli and onions but seeing as how oxygen and water apparently make the man gassy, it’s a fight I shall lose dear friends.  Like Custer at his last stand if the Native Americans smelled like feet and butt.  
After supper we watched Cops, looking for relatives.  I’m kidding…sort of.  But as the TV got louder and the funk began to grow, I took leave to my room to gather my thoughts and write another posting.  I never realized how quiet I actually am at home.  I rarely make noise and this is the first time I’ve had cable in moew than 4 years, so I’ve never watched this much TV.  I"ve survived with Netflix and I read a lot.  He reads as well, but with the TV going on in the background.  He’s like the teenager I once was without the aggressive derision, but definitely with the odd clothing choices. 
He’s decided he wants to find himself a fedora or a top hat.  When I asked why he said, “I want people to look at me when I walk by”.  I asked, “Are you saying they aren’t looking at you now?  Because I assure you, they are.”  He said, “Won’t a fedora make me look cool?”  I replied, “No.  Not even a little bit.  Now pick up your teeth and put them in your pocket until supper.”  I’m kidding of course, but only about the teeth.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

He has arrived with recliner and dog

My father is en route to my house today.  He left his sister's in Alabama on Friday and I am not so much having second thoughts as simply running through scenarios in my head about how this will work exactly.  I haven't lived with my family since I left for college at the age of 17.  It's not like I don't have anything in common with my father; we share oddly short legs, weird feet and the belief that I am adopted.  I am definitely more like my mother.  My Daddy is a good ol' boy in every sense of the word.  He is a straight shooter; so am I.  He does not suffer fools at all; I do not suffer them gladly but as a federal employee, must deal with them on a daily basis.  There are many things on which our opinions and belief differ.  Money, religion, hygiene and style are just a few of the areas where we have mostly opposing views.  TV shows, books, food and laughter the very few areas where we usually agree, although as a diabetic you would think he would avoid sugar more than I, but you would be wrong.  He arrived sipping a Mountain Dew because diet drinks "taste funny".  I titled this blog 'Penny Loafers at the Rodeo' as it encapsulates the inherent differences between us.  I have actually worn penny loafers to a rodeo.  He hasn't worn penny loafers, ever I don't think.

If you've watched my video on YouTube (Dustin Thompson VA) you may be familiar with my description of my Daddy.  I know that many people have always imagined him to be an older version of me, with the pastel chinos, seersucker suits and coordinated belts, shoes and watch bands.  But that is absolutely not the reality.  I describe him as Uncle Jesse from the original 'Dukes of Hazzard' except with red hair and suspenders instead of overalls.  I kid you not. 

When he arrived "yestidy roundbout dinner" (translation: yesterday around noon) his truck was completely packed like the Joad's escaping the Dust Bowl, y'all.  He has purchased a tarp to protect his belongings including a power wheelchair, recliner, suitcases and a four-wheeled walker.  It had seen better days as it had weathered the rain and wind from Tropical Storm Lee as he drove from Alabama through Texas on his way here.  I almost laughed but then it hit me that he has two different pieces of equipment to help him get around.  I keep forgetting he's old y'all.  Old like the Pope.  He turned 70 in July and it's odd to see him in this light.  I always remember him as the strong, loud, slightly scary man who I always viewed with a mixture of fear and respect.  He wasn't a very loving man in the sense of those Dads from the AT&T commercials; he wasn't and still isn't a hugger.  But he did show love in the ways he knew.  He would buy me things he thought I would like.  He would have my Mother cook my favorite things when I visited from college.  He would make jokes, sometimes at my expense, just to make me laugh.  He did love me, but I was much too dramatic (in that overblown 90210 way) to recognize that he was doing the best he could with a kid he truly didn't understand.  So I guess it's come full circle.  He didn't know what to do with me but he let me stick around for as long as I needed and now it's my turn.  I've just got be sure to have enough Febreze; he does still smell like old man. 

Somebody throw up a prayer!