So my dad shows up at my doorstep. This might not be a big deal for you, or most families, but for mine, it is. See, he lives in Ireland.
Let me provide a bit of backstory. Well, most of this is all backstory, but I guess there’s backstory to the backstory (if that makes sense). To attempt and quickly summarize, my mother was a single mother for the first 14 or so years of my life. She remarried and we moved to Seattle as I was turning 15. The man she married, Pat, had moved over from Ireland a few years previously.
Alright, so my mother marries Pat, his two kids from Ireland move over, the family grows, and over the next several years they separate and get back together. Eventually, they separate for good. Contentious doesn’t seem to quite cover it, and eventually he has a stroke.
The biggest effect of the stroke is Aphasia, which affects his language. It took several years for him to get his language skills back, and even to this day he mixes up words, and names are almost impossible (especially in his rather large family). He also gets tired easily and rather muddled.
A few years ago he moved back to Ireland, and it was the best thing for him. Not only is the pace of life slower, the culture there is a bit more tolerant (if that’s the right word) of a man in his condition. People look after each other. He’s able to sit in the pub for 3 hours by himself having one beer, and it is alright. And this doesn’t even speak to how the government treats its senior citizens.
So he’s coming back to the United States for a visit. My brother Patrick is getting married next month, and dad is coming over for that, as well as taking the opportunity to make his usual round of visits. There are his siblings and their kids to visit, as well as his own children and grandchildren to visit, not to mention all the friends he has amassed from living in Seattle for 20+ years or so.
Thing is, I knew he would be coming over, but had no idea when. I also had no idea where he would be staying. There are plenty of family members that would be willing to put him up. I’m not worried about where he will stay, really.
I get a call Monday evening from my youngest brother Kagan (not the one getting married). He’s in a panic because dad is arriving the next day, and staying with him, and he’s not prepared. He will not only be at work when dad arrives, but dad has not yet met Kagan’s pregnant girlfriend. So, the two of them are going to meet for the first time without Kagan there and he was asking for help.
Well, I wasn’t about to let dad stay with Kagan. His apartment is the bottom 3 rooms of a basement, well, 4 rooms I guess if you count the kitchen. I guess Kagan’s idea of having dad stay at his place was to let him sleep on the couch. Not only was there not enough space in Kagan’s apartment, but it is filthy. I was there a few weeks ago, and it smelled horrible, and there was trash everywhere. He doesn’t own a vacuum, so you can imagine what the floor is like – and he has a dog.
I call my sister Patrice, the one who usually handles dad’s arrangements in Seattle. Dad doesn’t care where he’s put, and she had no idea what Kagan’s place was like. We decided to have him stay with me as we have the spare bedroom away from the middle of the house so he can get away and rest whenever he needs to. Fine, that’s all sorted out.
The next day I cleaned up the room a bit, putting on fresh sheets, vacuuming, etc. A couple of hours before his plane is due in, I get a call from my sister Patrice. There was a message left from dad, saying something about getting in at 9, or 7 and that there was a delay. Thing is, because of his aphasia, he’s not very clear as to what is going on. Add to the confusion the caller ID for the call was from a Boston area code, which is why Patrice didn’t answer the phone and instead let it go straight to voicemail. She attempted to call that number back, but it was a dead number.
A fair bit of research later, it turns out dad’s flight from Dublin to Chicago was cancelled. What was he doing in Boston? Our best guess was that he was rerouted to fly from Dublin to Boston then on to Seattle. Apparently one of the airline employees was kind enough to allow him to use one of their phones to call and notify us of his change in plans. I looked up flights from Boston to Seattle, and a bit of detective work got us a flight that arrived just after 9p.m. Our best guess was his mentioning 7 repeatedly was to compensate for the time difference, but the aphasia wasn’t helping matters, nor was his being tired due to travel.
Anyway, Patrice was at the airport when he arrived, and on the flight we had figured out he would be on, and after getting his luggage and stopping off to say hello to Kagan at work, arrived at my house. We stayed up a bit later than normal, since it’s not every day he comes over (usually only once a year). Eventually I had to go to bed, and he was dead tired as well.
But he’s here now. Safe, and the kids are all excited that “Granda Pat” is back for a visit. Heck, it’s not just my kids, I can’t count on my fingers and toes how many people in Seattle are excited to see him.