Last week I took my Pops to the orthopaedist’s to figure out what’s the story with his 85-yr-old knee bones.
(Q: And this relates to lesbian fatherhood how? The flip answer: I’m a lesbian; he’s my father. So there. The real answer: What I learn from him has a great deal to do with how I approach life, therefore parenthood.)
We were trying to find the office, and he was plubming the increasingly murky depths of his memory to tell me the location of a nearby landmark, from which we’d get our bearings.
Pops: “It’s right across from the hospital, where the road bends.”
Me: “That’s where it used to be, years ago. But remember when we went there a few months ago? Now it’s down the street, past the next intersection.”
Pops (deadpan): “That’s what I meant.”
If it really is Alzheimer’s, and not some ordinary degradation of memory due to age, it’ll take a long time for us to notice, since he elides so many such slips of memory with humor.
“Pops,” I said, “when there’s nothing left of you but your Cheshire Cat smile, there’ll still be your sense of humor. When it’s 2099, long after the nuclear holocaust, and there’s nothing left on this planet but cockroaches and kudzu, there’ll still be your sense of humor.”
We both smiled for at least two blocks.
After which I got to thinking: I’ll have to crowd “a fertile sense of humor” into that list of top parental qualities I was compiling a week ago. So we now have:
- unconditional love
- abundant patience
- a commitment to teach rather than boss
- a fertile sense of humor
Being just a touch obsessive-compulsive, I am unsettled by the fact that this list is only four items long. Five, or better yet, ten, would round it out nicely, don’t you think? The mike is open.