“You’re five minutes late!” my father said, as I reached over to kiss him on his forehead. He was sitting in the kitchen, on the breakfast table facing the glass doors looking out to our mother’s garden. The sunlight was gently streaming into the always bright room.
“Dad, it’s fine. We have lots of time to get you into the car and to the restaurant,” I reassured him, cheerfully. “We’ll load your wheelchair in the trunk if you can walk with us to the car. Shall we get up now?”
“I can. I can. I can do that,” as he rose from his chair unsteadily and started to shuffle across the kitchen. We flanked him on each side and the three of us walked slowly out of the house and into the back seat of our car. He was clearly looking forward to this brunch.
We drove quietly to our destination. Once there, we were met by the rest of the family. They all greeted our father and we all walked into the Mayfield Bakery and Cafe in Palo Alto. It was a very pleasant Sunday morning. The servers were all gracious and accommodating.
Through brunch, my father was quite focused on what he was eating. He ate his french toast with strawberries and a side of maple glazed ham, with much gusto. He interrupted himself every so often to tell us the food was good and he was enjoying himself. We all smiled at one another. I watched him quietly. Here was my dad, a shadow of the once confident, strong, and virile man I looked up to and always looked forward to seeing at the end of the day. Nowadays, it’s more about his various medical appointments, how his bodily functions have to be in sync with the routine he has established for himself, his favorite TV reruns, or what’s on the news. Not much else.
He interrupted my reverie. “You know, I’m worried about mommy,” he said to all of us.
“She’s fine, Dad. She’s with her sister visiting in San Diego,” my sister reassured him.
He frowned and shook his head. “No. I’m worried about her,” he repeated.
“Okay. We’ll tell her when she calls that you’re worried about her. She’ll be back in a week.” We all shrugged. We hear him say this from time to time, but strangely, never in front of our mother.
On the way back in the car, he fell asleep. He woke up once the car pulled up on the driveway. We settled him on his favorite chair in the living room and gave him the TV remote. He waved us away. It was time for his favorite shows.
And that was that. We said our good-byes and left him to “The Streets of San Francisco.”