Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Between the Inevitable and the Immutable

I was not looking forward to going to Dad's today. I was getting out of the house to play tennis and so it made sense to go a bit further north and see after a few things for him though.

The other day I had to tell him his sister died. Not easy. Today I was just taking the obituary for him to read. (It had been sent as a scan via e-mail to me by a cousin.) Today I had to tell him how much he owed the tax man and how much he'd have to make in quarterly payments because he had an unusual bump in income. "I bet you get a refund next year if you live long enough." He allowed that he wouldn't pay the tax man until April. "Maybe I won't have to do it," he said. "Yeah, I'd have to do it." We joke like this all the time. We know that none of us live forever and none of us know when the time will come.

Death and taxes. The inevitable for us mortals. And even politicians have to die.

There was an old wives' tale that I always heard that your fingernails and toenails kept growing after you died. Then I read somewhere that it wasn't true. That the tissue around them shrank back and made it appear true. Whatever. I trimmed my dad's toenails for him. He'd soaked his feet to make it easier. He talked about the horse stepping on the one toe and how he'd had to stay off of it and so he had to stay inside and cook and wash dishes and strain milk, etc.

"I didn't have a crutch. Do you know what I did?"

I did, but I didn't say so.

"I used a straight chair and put my knee in it and moved around the house that way.

I gave my dad a book I bought for him about Iceland. He said he was going to spend the afternoon reading it. I also took him a bottle of champagne in a gift bag with a Valentine's Day Card signed from us and him. It is for his good friend Maja. She is from Iceland and, in fact, took my dad on a trip there. She gives him rides and meals. My sister and I call her 'the good daughter.'

While I was playing tennis and having a fine time on the muddy clay on a day the hard courts were dangerously slick when we started, I was kind of depressed about having to talk to my dad about death and taxes and trim his toenails because his back won't allow him to do it. (When he could still drive he went somewhere and got a pedicurist to do it. I think he went to a place he'd taken Mom for mani/pedi.) But when it was all done, I felt better. Dad wrote a check for the CPA cheerfully. He was pleased with his gift for Maja. And he was excited to have a new book that interested him to occupy his afternoon. (Actually it was only new to him. I bought it in the antiquarian book store on 12th Street.)

[Photo is a reflection in a shop on West Sixth. Thought of using it for the March theme day ('glass') for City Daily Photo, but I think I'll find another.]

No comments: