Got me thinking about my own dad. Not a teach-your-child-carpentry kind of dad. Carpentry or DIY was not one of dad’s gifts. But he did teach me how to do the cryptic crossword in the Scotsman and was even known to phone at 7am to ask if I’d finished it and did I know what 3 Down was. He also taught me how to hold my drink, which was terribly important in my hedonistic youth. He taught me the importance of good communication in business and how to mix with people from all sorts of backgrounds. He passed on his ear for music and his wide feet and curly hair.
Now that he has vascular dementia he teaches me patience. He teaches me the Sacrament of the Present Moment. For when I visit now, there is no exuberant conversation from him, no jokes, no plans for the future – just silence. No chats, no questions, no enquiries on how we’re doing, no news from the rest of the family. Of course I can ask those questions but there is really no point for he can’t remember and gets a bit anxious. So it is all a bit one-sided as I tell him what we’ve been up to, give him all our news and then we sit back in companiable silence. We enjoy each other’s presence and enjoy that moment. We have a smoke and we watch whatever is on the loud TV in the smoking lounge. Sometimes I pick up his Scotsman and we have a go at the crossword. Sometimes he even gets the answers to the clues for the cryptic part of his brain still seems to work. But mostly we just sit.
One great thing about growing old is that nothing is going to lead to anything. Everything is of the moment.