I’ve got something to say about my 89-year-old father.
This is the father who spent decades writing organizational policy and writing sermons, who reads and writes history for pleasure and because history matters, who would rather sit in a committee meeting with goals to reach than go to a party, where it’s hard to know what to say.
This is the father who brought me up to do deskwork—to balance household ledgers and pay bills and type letters from his dictation. He oriented me to his elaborately subdivided four-drawer subject file. He taught me to scan articles in periodicals to determine their foci. And if it was an article, for example, about what amillennialists believed about the Great Tribulation, to file it under ES-AM-GT. This is the father whose idea of having fun with me was to help me trace my ancestry to the other side of the ocean.
This is also the father who has been known to faint at the sights of needles and blood and who avoided diaper changes when he could and gagged through them when he couldn’t. Although I’ve heard lots of people say nice things about my dad, I’ve never once heard anyone rave about his bedside manner or say he is a natural caregiver.
But these people haven’t seen my dad lately.
My mom’s been through some tough times—a series of falls and fevers and digestive disturbances.
When I checked in by phone this morning, her voice broke.
“Your dad has been so good to me,” she said. “I feel sorry for what he’s had to clean up after me.”
“You should have called me,” I told my dad.
But he had another view.
“Sixty-eight years ago,” he said, “I made a promise that I intend to keep.”
I’ve long admired my policy-writing dad. But never as much as I do now when I watch him count pills and fix sitz baths and tuck my mom safely into bed.
It’s only then that he goes back to his study to write some more history.