Yesterday was my dad's 83rd birthday. I called him in the morning to wish him a happy birthday, and to let him know that Ben and I would be driving out to see him and take him out to lunch. He expressed concern that the roads would be too bad, but I assured him we would be fine. "Well, that's great, " he said. "I'll be glad to see you." A promising start to the day, I thought, and after picking up cupcakes and sparkling water and birthday plates, napkins, and cups, we headed to Elyria.
Dad did seem genuinely glad to see us, but I was discouraged to see that, as for my last couple of visits, he wasn't wearing one of the nice, new sweaters I bought, but an ugly, heavy, untucked flannel shirt. He had a bad cold, he told us right away, everyone did in that pest house. I stifled a laugh as I thought, for god's sake, that's straight out of Charles Dickens. The Wesleyan Village could not be further from a pest house. I remarked that anywhere alot of people were living together - in a dorm, for example - winter illnesses were rampant. He seemed unpersuaded.
We took Dad to his favorite little restaurant for lunch, which he seemed to enjoy, remarking on how much better the food was there than where he lived. He allowed Ben to treat, which is unusual, but we insisted as it was for his birthday. When we got back to the Village, Dad seemed reluctant to return to his room, and took us on a slow, circuitous tour. Now, I have toured the facility probably four or five times, I was wearing a heavy coat (and it is warm in there) and I had to pee. Finally, there was nothing else for it: "I have to pee! Could we please go back to the room?"
Dad had arranged his desk chair and the bench we brought from the house in a little seating arrangement, so we sat and had cupcakes and chatted. I had brought his college scrapbook along, but he was disinclined to look through it, and told me to keep it. "You guys don't have to stick around," he finally told us, so we took that as our cue to leave. I don't think he realized how personally I took his parting words to us. "Well, I still don't like it here," he said. "I probably never will."
Everyone keeps telling me, he needs time to adjust, he'll get used to it. But I'm not so sure. I tend to agree with my dad. He probably never will.