Every other Sunday evening I trek off to visit my dad. We have a routine once I’m there: I let myself in the front door; I sit down; he starts up our latest Netflix DVD; he makes popcorn; we watch the movie; we watch cartoons; I leave. That’s the way we’ve always done it, and that’s the way we’ll probably always do it.
We’ve had some exceptions through the years. He always tries to fill me in on the latest happenings, mostly the health (or lack of) of the family, so we get some talking in occasionally. Sometimes we’ll go to see a movie at an actual theater. Sometimes a football game delays the start of the movie at home. One night a couple months ago he let me drive his new two-seater convertible.
It’s a Solstice. Silver. He bought it to replace his Harley.
I learn more about my dad on these nights than you might imagine.
Last night’s movie was Secretariat. (As an aside, the one thing I remember about those races more than anything else was how the jockey never whipped the horse. He always carried the whip, but he never used it. Ever. My mother pointed that fact out to us.)
As for Secretariat, we both saw the real thing when it happened in 1973. We both knew how the movie was going to end, and we both cried anyway.
When I was growing up, I only ever saw my dad cry once. It happened the night my grandmother died. I was home from college that weekend, and he came home from the hospital, threw himself face down on the couch and sobbed. He was 47 years old.
So am I.
Since my mom died when he was 53, all that’s changed. And after his stroke when he was 73, all that changed even more. He gets emotional more easily now, and I’m not sure I know how to handle it. I mostly act like I don’t see it happening, and I think he does the same for me.
So last night I left, teary-eyed, and he wiped his nose and I ignored it and he ignored my tears and made a comment something about it being a happy ending. But we were both crying anyway and we both knew what he meant.
I’m thinking we have a lot more in common than I used to think we did.