My dad has always been logical. A “black and white” kinda guy. As I was growing up, this realization both sucked and…well, sucked. On the plus side he was both reliable and responsible. The voice of reason. We used to make fun of him “getting up on his soapbox” and giving you a good 2 hour lecture on why you should or shouldn’t do something. If you were lucky, you got one of his old Irish sayings that only took a sentence or two and wrapped up nicely. “Ya know…there’s an old Irish saying….No tickey, no laundry.” That little gem right there got me through most of my homework I didn’t want to do, chores and cleaning out my parent’s car in order to borrow it.
Mom was the emotional one. She was the first to cheer you on but also the first to yell at you. She should have been born a redhead. Dad likened her once to a firecracker. Quick to get mad but then it was over. My dad was more like a volcano. He’d take it and take it and then good God look out!
The lines were clearly drawn in the sand when my younger brother and I had an issue. Had trouble with a boy? Talk to Mom. Got a flat tire? Dad was your man. Had math or history homework that you couldn’t figure out? Dad. Something you didn’t want Dad to hear from you? Tell Mom, she always told Dad everything anyway.
And so our lives continued on from high school through college, marriages, births, divorces and deaths. Somewhere along the way my parent’s got older. Their personalities changed. Dad began to mellow with age. His black and white thinking turned as grey as his hair color. He became less interested in making the correct decisions and more interested in how you felt about those decisions. He felt he had made some mistakes when we were younger. He started craving to spend time with us. Now don’t get me wrong…Dad had always wanted to spend time with us but now he was doing things like calling just to say hi.
As you can well imagine, my relationships with my parents started shaking like a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. What the hell was happening??? My foundation was starting to show cracks. Where were the lectures?? Where was the soapbox and the sayings and THE REASONING????
Now it was like I had two moms (minus the firecracker part). Dad started talking about his “compound”. Excuse me…a what? Yup, that’s what I said too. “You mean like Waco?” I’m pretty sure the Irish don’t live on compounds. Anyway, it was his utopia. At first he mentioned it casually. “Ya know, that way we could all be together.” Mom thought he had lost it and needed his hormone levels checked.
The other day I was talking to Dad and he abruptly got up. “I want to show you this. I’ve been working on the compound.” He brought out a sheet of paper and started drawing on it. “Now see, we would have a main yurt in the center and then these other smaller yurts spoking out like a wagon wheel. There would be a breezeway between them all. If you wanted to be by yourself then you could go to your family’s yurt…but the main yurt would have a kitchen and family room. The smaller ones are mainly for sleeping. Well???(grinning) What do you think???”
YURT???? Knowing that this man could cry at any moment, and not wanting to be the source of his new found emotional pain, I kicked my own soapbox under the table and fought off the urge to give a 2 hour lecture about the freezing cold of a Willow Creek winter and the thin canvas walls of a yurt.
Seeking the solace that only a cousin could give about now, I quickly called Kristabel and told her of my Dad’s entry into early senility. “Oh my God…I LOVE yurts!!!!” she cried. I think the word “yurtastic” even got used. Great, add another spoke on the yurt of the family compound.
So, if you ever get to Willow Creek come on by. We’ll all be in the main yurt talking about feelings and how the world is grey and if you are lucky you might just hear “Ya know…there’s an old Irish saying…”