Since Thanksgiving is at my house this year, and both my parents and the in-laws are coming over, my wife has had me on perpetual honey-do-this since last weekend. The honey-do list is open ended. No matter how much stuff I do, there’s still something on the list that needs to be scratched off.
Yesterday was the last full day I had available to finish off as much as I could without having to haul ass after work and do whatever before it gets dark. I mowed the lawn, cleaned the pool, spread 20 bags of mulch at Man Camp?, spread 10 bags of gravel throughout the landscaping, weed whacked, installed christmas lights around the pool area, gave the dogs baths, cleaned the chairs and cushions, hosed down the sisal rugs for the pool area…well you get the picture.
At about 3:30 or so I’m already beat, exhausted, and I still have to pick up all the tools and take all the Christmas stuff out which is stacked at the very back of the shed, meaning I have to basically empty the damn thing out. So I decide to take a break and catch the last few minutes of whatever football game is on at the time.
I drag myself to Man Camp?, open a beer and plop down on a chair in front of the TV. No sooner had I done this when I hear “Honeeee….Valllllll…..” Damn. No rest for the weary. “Honeeee….Your parents are here.”
I get up and drag myself again across the yard and inside to greet them. I look aweful mind you, tired, sweaty, dirt all over my shirt and shorts. I smell baaaad.
I say hi to my mom first, as usual and expected, and then dad. “Don’t worry,” he says to me as I peck him on the cheek, “we’re only going to be here a few minutes.” We all walk outside as the Mrs. is cleaning the house and I am basically so dirty that I leave grass or dirt wherever I go.
Dad heads straight for Man Camp because he loves it out there. It’s shady, has a nice view of the canal and there’s always a great breeze. Mom hangs out by the pool area with my wife. Asks me what I want her to make for Thanksgiving. I tell her we have everything covered but she insists. “Ok Mom,” I say, “por que no hace un flan?” “A flan it is then,” she says.
The dessert issue already resolved, I go back out to Man Camp where I find my dad leaning against a table, hands in his pockets ans staring out over the canal.
“Tired aren’t you?” He asks me.
“Muerto,” I say.
Then he says something to me that makes me do a mental double take. “You should take it easy,” he says. “Don’t try to do too much.”
I think what the f….. Dont try to do too much? This coming from a man in his 70’s that still works his ass off welding 6 days a week? I mean, they call my dad “Coso” which is basically the Cuban equivalent to Hauss from Bonanza. He’s that kind of man. Big and strong with a soft heart.
Everything I had done to that point yesterday he would have done faster, better and with enough energy remaining to complete the days chores. I am halfway done and am dead tired. My dad is the quinessential work horse. The man works with steel. That is no easy job.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you,” he pauses for a second, “do you use that bicycle over there at all?” He points to my rusting bike that hanst been ridden in months.
The question kind of confuses me. What the hell does he want a bike for? “Why?” I ask, “Who are you gonna give it to?” I thought maybe he knew of someone that needed it.
“It’s for me. I need to do some exercize for my legs.” He is totally serious while Im thinking he’s got to be nuts. “It’s the new diet,” he says. “I feel like I’m withering away. I’ve lost almost 40 lbs.”
“But Dad,” I’m holding back a chuckle. “What do you think, you’re back in Cuba still able to pedal Mom around on bike like you used to?”
“Look at this.” He undoes his belt, opens his pants and drops trough right there in the middle of Man Camp. “Look at these legs, when have you ever seen my legs like this?” His legsdo look thinner than I had ever seen them and a bit wrinkled. “I was only going to ride a little bike around the front of the house. On the sidewalk…to get my legs in a little shape.”
It hit me right then and there. Our relationship had just done a 180. Now it’s my father asking me to allow him to ride bike and it’s me that’s worrying about him riding a bike on the street. “Dad,” I speak as delicately as possible, “I am not going to give you my bike for you to ride around on the streets. Not just because I think you would have to ride more than just in front of the house to get into shape, but because I would be worried shitless…And Mom would kill me.”
“Ay,” he says, “what have you got to worry about? You think I’m too old for…” He stopped in mid sentence, as if he had just realized exactly what he was saying is true. “Well, I dont know what else I could do.”
“Don’t worry Dad,” I tell him as I pat him on the back. “You’re still strong as an ox. Stronger than me so stop worrying about it.”
I know that he knows that I know he won’t stop worrying about it. So, he’s getting a exercycle for Christmas.