“You have to promise you will not write a story about us,” were the first words out of my mom’s mouth when I stopped by their house the other day to help them paint. It would have been nicer to hear, “Oh, it is so good to see you – I’m so glad we are moving back from Florida so we can see you – our favorite son.” And no, I did not agree to go “off-the-record” with my parents.
I don’t know how it happened or when it happened, but my parents are approaching an advanced age (I didn’t say they were there – I only said they were approaching it). They can still run circles around a lot of people their age, but while the spirit may be willing the flesh is starting to weaken a little. They both have kept the titanium miners busy over the past couple of years with new replacement parts. Dad has a new hip and mom had two new knees installed earlier this year.
Earlier this week my mom called and asked if I had a ladder they could borrow because they wanted to paint the house they just moved into. Yes, I have a ladder, but the only way they were getting my ladder is if I came with it. I’m sure my dad – even at 80-years old – would be safe climbing up and down a ladder. No, I don’t really think that at all. I really think he would fall off and either mess up the new hip or need the other side replaced and, selfishly, I didn’t want the guilt of having provided the instrument for his downfall (literally).
When I said I would help them I was promised a big breakfast or a big lunch. The next morning I checked my texts and my mom said to let her know when I was on my way. I thought to myself – Oh good, she wants to know so she can start fixing some food. I got to their house and there wasn’t anything cooking or on the table. I started painting and there wasn’t any movement toward the kitchen at all. I was getting a little hungry, but I kept working. An hour or two later I finally realized I wasn’t getting any food. I put down my paint brush and went to the kitchen and helped myself to a piece of pie. It was good, but it certainly wasn’t a “big lunch.”
A few facts were also omitted when we talked about painting the day before. I thought they were just going to do the walls and I would be done in a couple hours. Nope! They were painting the ceiling, too. The two- to three-hour job turned into a seven-hour job.
My wife called after the third hour of painting. She had just gotten off work and asked, “Do you want me to bring you something to eat?” With desperation in my voice I replied, “No, I want you to come help paint.” Three hours later she arrived. I guess she didn’t hear the desperation I thought I was conveying.
My mom came out of her room a couple times while my dad and I were painting. She sat down one time and exclaimed, “This is probably the last time WE will paint.” I looked at my paint-covered dad and then looked at my mom and asked “We?” I love my mom, but I did not see a paint brush in her hand.
My mom did make a big dinner and it was delicious. As we were leaving, I asked if I should leave the ladder. Before they could answer, my wife put the nix on that. “No! If they need the ladder, we will bring it to them,” she said. I guess it’s official – we’ve taken away their ladder privileges. Since I took the ladder, I’m leaving it up to my brothers to decide when it’s time to take their driver’s licenses. I’m not doing that one.