In honor of Father’s Day, I’m celebrating my dad’s independent spirit. Until a few months before his death at 91, he never ceased seeking new adventure — and scaring his kids spitless.
Visiting my parents lapses me into Louisiana slow-mo. Lounging on their front porch, eating Mom’s peach cobbler, we watch mercury in the ancient thermometer soar. A hound dog snores in the road.
This Mayberry moment feels timeless. But it will disappear faster than my cobbler.
In a word, Dad.
My 82-year-old father, rocking away, looks harmless. But this man has given his guardian angel a permanent tic.
Dad regales me with his latest exploits. Although my parents rent Great-granddaddy’s homestead from my cousin, Dad claims responsibility for it. One morning, he scaled the heights — “No dizziness a’ tall when I take my pills” — and cleaned gutters.
When I choked and asked why he hadn’t called my cousin, he said, “Why bother her? I got time.”
However, 96-year-old Great-aunt Footsie spotted Dad on the roof. She told him he hadn’t gained a lick of sense over the years. A polite Southern boy, he agreed. Yes, ma’am, he shoulda called a young ’un to do that. No, ma’am, he wouldn’t climb up on the roof again.
Instead, Dad hauled his buzzing chainsaw up a ladder to trim trees. Suddenly, the ladder lurched, and he tumbled. Lying dazed, his life passed before him. Then, enough of that. Dad stood, revved his chain saw, and finished the job.
Now he sniffs the steamy air. “Something smells bad. Smelled it the other day, too.”
I gag. “Whew. What is it?”
“Don’t know. Thought the cats dragged something dead under the house. Then I wondered if the sewer was leaking. So I—”
He did, though deep in these pine woods, rattlesnakes consider a crawl space the ultimate in creature comfort. Still, Dad slithered through under-the-house muck himself.
No plumbing problems.
Now, he inhales again. His eyes widen. “That’s gas. Better check it out.”
Not with a lantern, I hope. Thank God, he calls the propane company, who sends an inspector. The man’s eyes bulge like a frog’s. “Ya’ll got a prob-lem.”
Years before, someone removed a gas heater from the fireplace. He kind of forgot to cap the gas line.
Escaping gas. In the fireplace, where, for three winters, Dad has built his famous infernos.
When my cousin discovers the current excitement, she calls me. “No more home maintenance, y’ hear? Tell him to take up a different hobby.”
As if Dad listens to me.
At least, he permits the repairman to fix this. And because of his alertness, we escape a trial by fire.
Dad ages me with his antics (my true biological age is 213), but he also has played the hero many times.
But will I be up for the next visit?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Does your dad age you, too?