. . . I was called to the nursing home where my father had been for two years. “Your mother needs you,” was all the caller said.
I had just had breakfast with my mother and she had been fine. We met half way between Smalltownville and where I live. When we ended our time together, she went on her way to spend Holy Saturday (that year) with my dad. And I went back home because I had to work. I do some free-lance work and I had three assignments to complete before I would spend Easter with Gr8.
“You’re mother needs you,” was the person’s way of avoiding the obvious. My father had passed away. I hung up the phone, told Officer Friendly that my dad was gone, and then drove to the nursing home where my mother was waiting – alone with her lost love of 52 years.
She needed me.
Mostly, she needed my help in gathering Dad’s things and emptying the room space so it could be prepared for the next person to need it.
As we gathered Dad’s belongings, Mother told me what to keep and what to throw. I had a truck, so his chair fit easily into the back of the truck and I was able to help her get it – and everything she wanted to keep – back to Smalltownville.
She had told me to toss his nearly empty bottle of aftershave. Even in my adult years, I haven’t been prone to disobeying her, but on this occasion, I did. I tucked it in my pocket and carried it with me throughout the day.
We waited at the nursing home until the funeral director took my father out the door. Then I squeezed my mother’s hand and told her I would see her the next day when I finished my three work assignments. She knew there was no way I could skip them. It was already the holiday weekend and there was no way to get any substitution. She assured me she would be fine. I promised to call her when I got a break.
I turned to go toward my truck to drive back home to Officer Friendly and my work and suddenly felt very small. I took the bottle of aftershave out of my pocket and gently sniffed my last corporal attachment to my father before assuring myself I that I could actually drive away.
I still have my father’s bottle of aftershave vapors. Today I will take my annual whiff and tuck the bottle away again for safekeeping. Last year, I shared my whiff with Gr8. She didn’t know I had the bottle until then. She just smiled at me and took a sniff without saying a word.
Sad thing about moveable feasts is that memories attached to them get attached to the date as well as the feast, so . . . Gr8, Indybro, my sis, RockyMtBro, and I will be thinking of Mr. Gr8 today and then again next week when Holy Saturday rolls around.
Today, the song on repeat is Papa Can You Hear Me, from Yentl. It’s for them and me . . . and Goodnight, who was his tiniest buddy back then. Tiny buddies miss their great-grandpapas, too.