The Last Fallbyandtheend©
His son takes his place when his elderly Dad takes his last tumble.
My Dad took a fall last week. It was a bad one. He broke his hip. The doctor warned me saying that it was all downhill from here. My Dad's been falling a lot lately, but this may be his last fall.
Having to face reality, it's so sad to think my Dad is so very old and is on his way out. Yet, at least, with him recovering, I have some time to get used to the idea of him not being around soon anymore. He's not dead, yet, just banged up a bit and with hip replacement surgery, that is, if he survives the operation, a risk at his age, he'll be as good as new, I hope and pray.
I love my Dad and don't want him to die. Just as I hate seeing him in pain, I hate seeing him bedridden. A winter sports kind of guy, a skier, ice skater, and one who loves riding toboggans, he's always been so very active.
My dad is elderly but, definitely, not feeble. I don't even know how old he is, but he's old. He's too sensitive about his age to tell me. He won't tell anyone his age and if you think he's bad about his age, my Mom is worse.
Both of them are just as bad with their weights, too. They are both obese but, just as they are secretive about their ages, they are secretive about their weights, too. Only their doctor knows what they weigh. What is it with old people? Why are they so stubborn and set in their ways?
Most overweight people wear darker clothes, navy blue, brown, and black to hide their weight and make them look slimmer. Not my Mom and Dad. Their favorite color is red and between them they wear a lot of red. Except for one outfit, I don't think I have anything red. Now that I think of it, even my Dad's car is red. I wonder what Dr. Freud would say about my parents obsession with the color red. Actually, I never thought of this, but maybe they are color blind.
I've been dreading this day, while expecting a call that something terrible or fatal happened to either my Mom or my Dad. Truly, I'm blessed that they are both still alive and relatively healthy, when the parents of most people my age are already dead and buried. Still, unable to do all that they loved to do, when they were younger, it's terrifying to watch my parents gradually humbled by age knowing that old age will be my reality one day, soon, too. Every year they have another wrinkle and a new ache and pain. It's sad. It's so very sad.
I can't help but think of them at a time when they were so young, so robust, so healthy, and so full of life and spirit. That's how I'll always remember my Dad excited over Christmas, instead of seeing my Dad lying there so helpless in a hospital bed for the holiday. I'll always remember him in the way that I still see him in my mind's eye giving me custom made toys at Christmas that he made me, when I was a kid. I have a whole collection of trains, planes, trucks, ships, and cars that he carved from wood and painted. I treasure them and passed them down to my son, Christopher, who has already passed it down to his son Christopher. Now with his arthritis, he doesn't carve wood anymore, something that he loved to do.
I'm Christopher, named after my Dad, who was named after his Dad. It's a family tradition going back hundreds of years that the first male son is named after his father. Lucky me. There are times I wished my name was Dave or Joe, instead of Christopher. My identity kind of got lost in my family tradition with so many of my ancestors named Christopher.
My brother's name is Angelo and my sister's name is Esperanza. Don't ask. I have no idea, but my Dad is away a lot and I can't help but wonder if my Mom was playing around with the hired help. We have a big place up north and we always have a lot of men working on the premises. My Dad owns a toy factory up there.
My Dad is one of those old timers who thinks that he can still do all the things that he used to do, when he was a younger man. There's no talking to him, he's so stubborn. He still drives. He still flies. He's had his pilot's license longer than his driving license.
I offered to help him, but he wants to do everything himself. An entrepreneur, he's a handy guy, no doubt, and likes making stuff in his workshop and overseeing his toy factory. I offer to help him there, too, but no. He must do it all himself. He doesn't trust me to do anything without his micromanaging supervision.
He imbibes a little during the holiday season, but who doesn't? At least, he doesn't smoke. Still, he's at that age where he's supposed to be watching his weight. He's supposed to be on a diet.
He has a sweet tooth for cookies. He loves homemade, freshly baked cookies. Who doesn't? Admittedly and proudly, my Mom makes the best Christmas cookies in the world. Yet, even though he swears he hasn't had a cookie in years, I don't believe him. Judging from his growing waistline, I have a feeling he sneaks them early in the morning, when everyone is still asleep and no one is looking.
My Dad has always been an early riser. He goes to bed very late, too. I don't think he gets more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep a day. Apparently, he doesn't need any more sleep than that. Now that I'm older with the reality of age shortening the time I have on Earth day by day, I'm like that, too.
"Sleep is a waste of time. Sleep is for the dead," he loves saying. "I'll sleep when I'm dead. For now, I don't have the time to sleep. I have too much to do."
When referring to his weight, he calls himself husky. He claims he hasn't gained a pound in years, but he's a bit rotund, obese is more like it. He's built a bit like Burl Ives, only bigger. Burl Ives was my Dad' favorite singer, mainly because he sang his favorite song, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. He was so sad when Burl Ives died, crushed actually. He loved that guy.
He loves Christmas music, as much as he loves Christmas, his favorite holiday. Every year, he makes a big deal out of Christmas. He still has that little kid spirit of awe and wonderment, whenever the holiday season approaches and he's a man possessed trying to get everything done he needs to do in readiness for Christmas. He runs his factory like a non-profit, instead of a business, as he gives away as many toys as he sells.
To be honest, for me, too much like elevator Muzak, I'm sick of Christmas music. Every year, they start earlier with the Christmas music and especially with the retailers moving up Black Friday by a month this year and making it the Friday after Halloween, instead of the day after Thanksgiving. It's too soon. I'm not ready for Christmas, especially when it hasn't even been cold enough to snow, yet.
Christmas has become too commercialized. Yet, no matter who sings Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, whether it's Celine Dion or Mariah Carey, it sounds too much like the same, old song to me. Truly, I'm sick of the song. Only, admittedly, now that I'm older, I have more tolerance for Christmas music. Strangely enough, it's starting to grow on me.
"People can't live forever, Dad," I said trying not to be insensitive, but wanting him to understand and to prepare him for the inevitable reality of old age and his eventual demise.
Maybe if he slowed down and relaxed more, instead of working so very hard, he'd enjoy his old age. I think Burl Ives' death scared my Dad because I suspect he was older than Mr. Ives when he died and maybe that was a reality check for him. I don't know. Only, instead of doing less, he started doing more, some reality check. Yet, fifteen years, after the death of Burl Ives in 1995, my Dad is still here and relatively healthy, but for his broken hip. Nonetheless, no one is immortal, right?
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a cute song, but seriously, I could think of a million songs that would be my favorite song before Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The song is childish. The song is dated. The song is dumb. Seriously, who ever heard of a reindeer with a red nose?
"Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer... Ah, gees, now you have me singing it."
It's one of those haunting songs that sticks in my mind, whenever I think about it. Yet, every time I hear that song, I think of Gene Autry. Boy, he was a man's man, a genuine cowboy, right up there with Roy Rogers. My Dad was sad when Mr. Autry died, too. I kind of suspect my Dad knew them personally, Burl Ives and Gene Autry, as well as Roy Rogers.
On second thought, my Dad claims he's known everyone. He may be getting a bit senile in his old age. My Dad said that ever since Gene Autry was a boy, when he sat on Santa's lap, it was always Mr. Autry's dream to buy a baseball team and when he bought the Los Angeles Angels, he was such a happy man to finally realize the Christmas wish that he had as a young boy.
"And what would you like for Christmas, Gene? A train? A cowboy hat and guns?"
"No thank you, Santa. I want my own baseball team."
"Ho! Ho! Ho! You'll really have to be good, really good, for me to grant you that wish, little Gene," said Santa patting him on the head. "I'll see what I can do, but you'll have to give me some time, about 50 years. Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"Okay, Santa. Thank you. I'll wait. In the meantime, you could give me that cowboy hat and guns. That would be a good Christmas gift."
And that's how Santa Claus developed Gene Autry into the cowboy star that he became, by granting his Christmas wish of a cowboy hat and six guns, and later fulfilling his Christmas wish of owning a baseball team.
Anyway, getting back to my Dad. As I already told you, he took another fall and he's in the hospital with a broken hip. This isn't the first time he fell, but the doctor said this could be his last fall. When the doctor said those words, his last fall, it sounded so final, meaning that if he took another fall that would be it for him. Yet, my Dad is not the easy chair kind of guy. He always wants to do something and make something.
"He's in a fragile state," said the doctor. "I don't know how old your Dad is, of course, unless we ran a carbon test of his bones," he said with a laugh, "but suffice to say that he's really old. With that being said, he needs to stay off the roof," he said with another laugh.
"Yeah, no kidding. Only, you try getting my Dad down from the roof, Doctor," I said in total seriousness and without a laugh.
I told you, my Dad is stubborn, so stubborn that I'm afraid he'll try to leave the hospital, check himself out, prematurely, and go back to hanging his Christmas decorations or what the Hell ever else he was doing up on the roof, which is how he broke his hip. For all I know, he may have been adjusting the TV's satellite dish for better reception. Living so far north, we get lousy TV reception. Still, there is no talking to old people, especially when those old people are your parents. They still treat me, as if I'm a child.
"I have a lot to do during the Christmas season, Christopher," my Dad said to me.
"Don't worry, Dad," I said. "I'll take care of whatever needs to be done. Okay? You just focus on getting better. You need to relax. You need to slow down and stop trying to do so much."
Anyway, as I previously wrote, this time, my Dad fell from a rooftop. I know, what's an elderly, obese man doing up on the roof? He was hanging Christmas decorations, no doubt, so he said. It wouldn't surprise me if he had been drinking. Certainly, he wasn't trying to commit suicide, otherwise, he would have chosen a multi-story house. Luckily, we only have a one story house and he fell in a snowdrift, but that fall was bad enough and his bones are brittle enough that he still broke his hip.
I'm afraid that I agree with the doctor. This is it for him. This is his last fall. I think the next fall will kill him. At the very least, if I can't get him to slow down and relax more, I think I can keep him off the roof.
Now that he's in the hospital, they won't release him, until they address all his other health concerns, high blood pressure, diabetes, and diet. He needs to lose weight. He needs to be put on a diet. Maybe this last fall was a lucky break for him, no pun intended, and a blessing in disguise. He'd never go see a doctor, otherwise.
Only, when I went to visit him in the hospital, suddenly, he looked so old and so sad. I felt so bad and I wished that I could take him home with me, but he's better off there. He's getting good medical care around the clock. He needs to stay in the hospital, until he recovers his strength.
Chances are, he may never come home. He may not even survive the hip replacement surgery. Even if the operation goes well, his next home, just may be a nursing home. It's hard getting old. Yet, at least I'm here to help my Dad, as I hope my son, Christopher, will be there for me, too, when the time comes.
I think the fall scared him, I really do. Maybe he figured he was going to die, and he could have. He's lucky he didn't fall on his head and break his neck, but his fat head is too hard and his skull too thick. He's such a stubborn, old man.
Certainly, in talking to my Dad, he talks like he's going to live forever. For sure, he's lucky he fell in the wintertime when there was plenty of snow to cushion his fall and not in the summertime. He's lucky he didn't slip on an icy sidewalk and hit his head. Boy, that would have been it for him. I don't know what I'd do without my Dad in my life, but one day the inevitable will happen. We can't live forever. Right?
That's another thing that pisses me off about my Dad. All summer long, he stays at home. You'd think he'd go out then, when the weather is nicer. No, not my Dad. He hates the beach. He hates the summer. He has to go out on the coldest of nights and in the worst weather conditions. There's just no talking to him.
I've been trying to talk him into retiring. Oh, yeah, he still works. I've been trying to convince him to sell the house and move to someplace warmer, like Florida. Nope, not Dad and my Mom is the same way. They've been married 75 years. They'll never sell that house. It's been in the family, since, forever.
The colder the better for him. He loves the cold weather. He loves the snow. Admittedly, he does better in the cold than he does in the warmer weather.
"Snow makes everything look beautiful," he always said, while looking out over the landscape, especially from the air. "As if covering the Earth with a blanket, snow quiets the noise of life. Everyone stays home when it snows and that's the time I like going out. It's so quiet. As if walking on the moon, there's nothing like being the first to walk on snow."
His excuse for not selling his house this time is that the real estate prices are flat and no one would buy his house anyway, as it needs too many repairs, a new roof, new thermal pane windows, a new front porch, and new weather insulated front and back door, before he can put it on the market.
"Where am I going to get the money to pay for all of that?"
"If you didn't give so much of your money away, Dad, you'd have the money for the repairs."
"There are so many people in need, too many people, especially this time of year, that I can't help myself from helping out my fellow man, woman, and child. Don't worry. I'll do the work myself and I'll save on the labor cost that way."
"Don't be ridiculous, Dad. You need to realize that you can't do the things you used to do. You're too old."
"Old? Who are you calling old? I'm still young enough that I can turn you over my knee and give you a spanking for disrespecting your father, young man."
"Sorry, Dad, but I'm not a young man anymore, either. I'm sixty-years-old," I said looking at him. "How old are you, Dad?"
"Never mind that. My age and my weight are none of your business."
His doctor told him to stay indoors during the cold months, but it's like talking to a wall. He has high blood pressure and he's predisposed to diabetes. A man his age, whatever his age is, shouldn't be out and about during a snowstorm, that's for sure. Oh, yeah, he still shovels snow. Unbelievable. He won't even buy a snow blower. He's had the same red shovel, since I was a kid.
Still, I can't get mad at him. He's a good man. He's my Dad and I love him. Always there to give a helping hand to whoever needs it, he is a beloved man. He's the type who'd give the shirt off his back. His biggest joy is children. He loves children and my Mom is the same way. She'd feed the world, if she could. Every year around this time, they both visit all the really sick kids in hospitals. They have big hearts. I just don't want anything to happen to either of my parents, Yet, I don't know what I'd do without them.
"Come on, Kid. You're up."
"Listen, I gotta go. I'm taking my Dad's place tonight, while he's in the hospital recovering. I promised him. Oh, yeah, my Dad still works his full-time job, don't you know? An old cote like him, he's too ornery to retire. Oh, sure, you all think my Dad is a saint, but try living with him and you'd have a different opinion of him. He only shows his jolly side to you all."
"Come on, come on. Hurry! Let's go, Chris. You're gonna be late."
"I gotta go. The Elves are calling me," I said getting in my Dad's sleigh. "Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On Comet! On Cupid! On Donder and Blitzen! Up Rudolph! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away All! Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."