It’s the season of vacations, the time of year when one politely inquires as to another’s vacation plans, either out of sincere interest or perhaps as a hopeful seque to discussing their own.
Sometimes I fail to hit the beach volley ball back, totally missing the shot. This week it was my doctor that was asking, perhaps because she had just returned from her own vacation. I know because six weeks ago her office called to reschedule my appointment to this week from last. But when Dr. E politely inquired as to my own vacation plans, I failed to return the favor. Sadly, the thought never crossed my mind.
No matter that we have no vacation plans ourselves this year. At least nothing serious in the offing, like last year’s trip, when we took ourselves and eleven others to spend a week at Disneyworld. I wish I hadn’t spiked the ball and killed the topic, because I would have loved to hear about Dr. E’s vacation and maybe even talk about our one day dream vacations to Greece and New Zealand. Or even the trips I know I’ll dream about later– as punctual as a time clock –when the calendar turns to Fourth of July, I’ll want to run away to the lake and in August I’ll want to run away to Alaska, though neither dream will materialize.
But no matter. This year, I’m pretty content in my own back yard. Everyday I go out and putter in my garden — pull a few weeds, pick up a bucket of dead magnolia leaves and do a little supplemental watering. Every week something new is in bloom, and the tranformation from a few months ago fills my heart with joy. My grandma’s cottage garden is no longer a dream but a reality, tomatoes growing next to antique roses, hollyhocks so heavy in bloom they look as if they need a holiday, to take a load off and rest their tired feet.
There will be no more vacations for Daddy. Even though he’s vacated his house, his stay at the rehab center doesn’t count. My brother Jon and I stayed through supper last Tuesday, to keep him company and to remind him of his new eating regimen — small bites and sips, followed by two swallows. It’s painful to watch Dad choke on most every bite. Daddy eats every meal at the ‘supervised’ table because eating is dangerous to his health. With Daddy are two faithful female companions, who finish their food rather quickly, then patiently wait for Daddy to finish. It takes Daddy a good forty-five minutes to eat fifteen minutes of food. I wonder why they stay, but soon my question is answered. As my brother Jon starts to wheel Dad away, Daddy stops Jon to reach out for these ladies hands to give each a tight squeeze.
Is Daddy telling them ‘thanks’ for sticking around, ‘thanks’ for not deserting him in his time of need? Do these ladies pray for Dad as he takes every bite? Or do they just pray Daddy will remember to reach out to hold their hands?
No matter. Even a rehab center can serve up unforgettable beauty that takes your breath away.