Let’s cut right to the chase and talk about my dad. I mean, no one really comes to this thing to read about me, anyway.
YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN; YOU JUST HAVE TO MOW THE LAWN ONCE YOU GET THERE: Ashley and I just spent five days in Tupelo, in my parents now-smoke-free (!) house (yay for the “patch”). This was evident by the fact that neither of us needed to use an inhaler or run out of the place in the middle of the night to get some fresh air. Anyway, once my aunt Paula picked us up at the Memphis airport and drove us to Tupelo (all the while supplying us with humorous anecdotes about the “fam” – and she had her first Zaxby’s experience) we got to see my dad for the first time.
Now, this was the first time since March that I had seen him, and the first time since Christmas that Ashley had seen him. My mom, my sister, friends and family members – all these various people had been around him, and were able to see the slow, steady toll that both the pneumonia and the hospital stay had taken on him. I had been trying to steel myself for seeing him for the first time since he began the radiation treatments, not really knowing exactly what the heck to expect. I mean, I had some idea from first-hand experience and from being around friends who went trough similar experiences – but this was my DAD, for crying out loud. No matter what your family dynamics may be, there’s an almost-expectant constant that this one individual is always supposed to be a rock, an anchor, unmovable and unchanging.
My initial reaction to seeing my dad was that this skinny, frail, tired man could NOT be my father. Or, that maybe this was just some bloody good CGI – and I wanted to cut the computer off and have the “real” Henry Lemmons appear.
Now – I do have to go on record and say that yes, he does look good, all things considered. His smile is still there, and while he needs to rest more than normal (or rather, the stodgy old goat is finally able to milk out all the naps he’s been deprived of over the years), this is still HIM. I…just had no clue that he would have dropped so much weight thanks to the 1-2 punch of two back-to-back illnesses. Now, for those of you who are so mathematically inclined to understand such, my dad is naturally to fat as I am to hair; that is to say, both sums equal zero. To see that he had dropped so much weight was unnerving and probably THE most evident factor in telling that he was or had been sick. Yes, his voice got a little scratchy as he would get tired, but after a little R&R, he was back to sounding like himself. Yes, his color in his face was off (partially due to his being indoors for about two months), but by the time we left, he looked more like himself in the face than he did when we got there.
To illustrate how much better he is in fact doing – his appetite, while nothing what it was before he got derailed by all this, was starting to return…with the strangest freaking cravings possible. Strawberries and cream? Check. Potato soup at all hours of the night? Check. Coffee, pecan pie, and…bacon? Check. Knowing that he IS eating is a comfort, and while I support him eating anything that he wants to – come on. Some of this is just weird. I mean, coffee, pecan pie and BACON? Yeah. I think the doctors need to go back in and work on getting his taste buds set straight.
Ashley and I even have a slight bet/promise going on with him: for every pound he gains back, we’re going to buy him a lottery ticket. In hindsight, I realize I probably should have put a cap on this weight/lottery system. Whatever. If the prospect of bazillions of lottery dollars motivates him to eat and get healthy – bring on the Power Ball.
Another thing that may have helped to get some of the pep in his step back and help him on the road to recovery was seeing my pushing-40 arse pushing a lawn mower outside and working on the lawn that he hasn’t been able to work on for several weeks. Yes, people have been by to cut the grass, but apparently, I am some kind of lawn god and inherited the combined landscaping skills of my maternal grandfather and my father. I don’t state this to say that his seeing me come in covered in dirt, grass stains, sweat, and spider webs (don’t ask) gave him such a rush of energy that it helped to expedite his recovery, but I will admit that there’s something…settling…about knowing that your surroundings are in order, and you don’t have to worry about how things look around the house. It helps you to be able to rest somehow.
It was a little therapeutic for me as well – mostly because it was a tangible sign to me that my presence was a help and not a hindrance, because – as child-like as this sounds - I was helping my daddy around the house. Not that I live for his approval or anything, but it was a kinda cool throwback to the days of a little Sonny who just wanted to hang with his dad. Plus, after this trip to Tupelo and doing work around the joint, I can add “roofing skills” to my resume.
IS THAT REALLY ALL? No. There are pages in my journal that will never see print, things that are sacred and private. Thoughts. Fears. Joys. Hopes. Worries. Prayers of clay. These are things that I may share one-on-one with some people but aren’t really fit for mass consumption.
The moral of the whole trip to Tupelo can be summed up like this: I am glad we went. Moreso than I can talk about right now. For more reasons than I can share right now. Yes, my dad is sick, but he is on the strong road to recovery. Things are better than thought possible, especially with the “c” word having been dropped. And no matter how much he might like it, I will never eat pecan pie with coffee and bacon.
SO, YEAH, OTHER STUFF IS GOING ON IN LIFE, TOO: Soon, people will no longer be able to laugh at Cricket’s girth. Turns out the little critter not only has an elevated count of something in her kidney, but she has a thyroid problem to boot. Starting tonight, she’s going on medication for both which will (a) drop her weight and (b) increase her energy. I don’t think the world is ready for a peppy, skinny Cricket. Photos will follow.
I may have a cool announcement about my career soon. Or, it may just shock the crap out of – well, everyone. That will come by August.
Wipeout is my guilty pleasure TV series of the summer. Imagine a really dumbed-down Ninja Warrior crossed with a Six Flags water park. Starring contestants that would embarrass Darwin. Genius programming. I swear – TV these days makes me long for the intelligent programming of days gone by, like Mr. Ed and My Mother the Car…(that would be sarcasm, for those of you who don’t quite get it.)
Go to iTunes and get Matt Papa’s CD. Go to Amy Winkles' website (she who sang at our wedding, lo, that year ago) and order her CD (and read the bio while you’re there). Your ears will thank you for it.
Go drink coffee with someone you love.