So my dad’s turning 80 in less than two months.
That number—80—is kind of freaking me out a bit; it isn’t exactly young. Both of his parents died well before they turned 80, and while Papa isn’t the oldest of the 8 kids in his family, he’s the oldest one still living. And none made it to 80.
Maybe that’s why I’m kind of freaking out.
I wonder how he’s feeling about it.
I’m an awful daughter. I hate listening to him complain. And that’s all he ever really does.
He moved into a retirement community a couple years ago. It’s his own little apartment so he can come and go as he pleases but only old folk over 65 are allowed to occupy the apartments. Breakfast and dinner is provided every day in the community “restaurant”—all included in the cost of rent. And he had to sign over most of his savings to move in.
It’s an old folks home, let’s be real here: my dad lives in an old folks home and he hates it.
But he kind of has no choice. He’s been alone since he and my mom separated over 30 years ago. He never dated anyone so obviously he never remarried or anything. He’s a lonely old man.
And I never visit enough.
I hate that he has to be in this old folks home, yet I’m glad he’s there. Ideally he’d live with me and my little family in an in-law apartment. But we don’t live in a place that offers such a thing and frankly, I’m kind of glad about this.
I have a three year old that I have to take care of; I just can’t take care of an 80 year old, too.
I’m horrible. A horrible daughter.
After my parents’ split, both my siblings wanted nothing to do with Papa. I was the youngest and I only wanted one thing: for my family to just be a family. I spent every weekend with Papa that I could until my 20s. I answered all of his questions. I kept all of his secrets.
I now realize that he went a little crazy back then. I found out years after the fact that he actually committed himself into a hospital for a while. He was extremely depressed, he claims. I also learned that he had a gun on him during that time. And of course there was the private detective that was following my mom around for a while.
It didn’t matter what Papa did though, I couldn’t turn my back on him. Just like it didn’t matter that Mama turned into a drunk bar/man-hopping vixen.
I still can’t turn my back on them. Neither one of them.
And now Papa is turning 80 (Mama will be only 66).
I’ve got to do something for him. Something more than just wishing him a happy birthday. Something that involves people coming to celebrate. A party of sorts. But where? And how do I pay for it? And will it be enough?