Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Quaker Sunday

Quaker principles are simple and true. Their mission is based on treating people with a sense of equality, peacefulness, integrity, community, and simplicity. Barclay Friends is a Quaker run facility and their mission statement runs true there. Maybe this is why they do not frown upon my Dad and his entourage while they sit in the "narthex" of a Barclay aisle and play poker.... with money...on a SUNDAY! This is the site my family and I came upon last Sunday as we walked down Barclay's long hallway. Scott and I and two of my three children had just come from church and we were hoping to spend some time with my parents and my sister who was flying back to Booneyville, USA later that day. At first glance, it just looked like a few elderly people gathered in a circle enjoying a nice conversation with each other. Dad has a way of gathering people around and engaging them in quick games of cleverness whether it's a made-up word game or a card game of hearts or spades. We used to do this after dinner at home when I was young and I always loved it especially since he was so entertaining. He is famous for never really following the actual written rules and so he would always come up with a much better, more simplified version of whatever it was we were going to play. He even does this when he golfs. It's a typical, fun quirk of his personality. Today, however, he was corrupting the minds of his octagenarian friends on a quiet Quaker Sunday! It was hysterical to watch and now my children and husband were scrambling to find chairs so they could gamble their silly heads off......they were only using pennys, but a lot of them!

I walked further down the hallway to head to my Mom's room where I know I would find my sister pecking and squawking over my Mom like we always do when we gather. I had a moment to quietly reflect over the past few years of my parents' "new" life apart from each other. I gave quiet thanks for the miraculous solution to my parents' previously horrible situation that was spiraling out of control. We had come a loooooooong way since those dark and troubled days. I actually had to stop for a moment and collect myself. I realized that it was 3 years practically to the day that Mom had been abruptly moved into Barclay. We had to separate them for their own safety. It was awful. This was the second time. The first time was to get Dad to realize that he needed to move out of his home and go to a smaller home. That was awful too but we succeeded. The second go 'round was three years ago. I slept in a hotel with Mom that first night right after Christmas when we stole her from Dad in order to keep them safe. It was the only place we could think of that would be handicap accessible. After that, she lived with us for 3 days and then lived with my other sister until a bed became available at Barclay. What a miracle that someone had to die and give up their room in order to save us from our situation. That was 2 days after Mom's birthday. She's a New Year's baby. I stood there realizing that today was the exact day only three years later. Wow.

I hear them cackling and laughing at who just won the hords of pennies for that round of poker. It shakes me back to reality and I again give quiet thanks that my Dad is happily and healthily gambling, on a Sunday, with elderly people and his grandchildren, in the comforts of a Quaker environment!

Later on that week, Mattie announces that she and some friends are going to the community center to play B.I.N.G.O. She said, "Mom, do you know that you can win money?!" She won that night. 85 BUCKS!!! She said that all the old ladies at her table were annoyed with her. Thanks DAD!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Left Turns

Dad has always had an impeccable driving record. He is probably the only person I know who actually drives the speed limit. ALWAYS. We lived on a long, straight road that had a 25 mph speed limit which was tortuously slow when you were driving with Dad. It was another story when you were driving with Mom. She had a notorious lead foot and so for the longest time I thought that the speed limit on our street was much higher than the posted 25 mph time. Since most of my travels were in the car with Mom, I was always shocked at how painfully slow my father seemed to drive when I finally had to get in the car with him. Somehow this always made him seem so much older than my Mom just because he was driving like a geezer. His motto in life was to avoid any unnecessary exposure at all times which really meant to drive painfully slow and actually stop and look all directions once, twice and one more time before venturing out into more hazardous traffic situations.

I am not really sure when I became aware of Dad's aversion to left turns but I am fairly certain he never liked them. Let me clarify: left turns that did not happen at traffic lights. Come to think of it, I can't say that I have ever seen him make a left turn that would cross him into traffic. In fact, he will go what seems to be miles and miles out of his way to avoid doing this. This can be extremely frustrating for the passenger because you end up taking this obscurely circuitous route around a neighborhood, city or parking lot in order to finally make the safer right hand turn. I never could really understand this and so when I learned to drive, I saw non-traffic-light-left-hand-turns as a huge challenge; a challenge that I successfully, fearlessly, and purposely did just to spite my father.

Fast forward. I am now a parent who has miraculously survived teaching one of my three children how to drive and I am now in the process of teaching the second child (actually, I quit that job because it was causing me to have severe heart trouble so now my husband has that job). How will I ever survive teaching a third? I have now become my father. I get it now, the whole left turn thing. I now know that he was right with his seemingly stupid circuitous routes. It makes sense. Why am I forever morphing into my parents?

She starts the engine and backs out of the driveway, pausing to ask which direction she should go in order to get to our local grocery store. I casually point in the opposite direction from which we normally go and she questions this. "Oh," I say, "I just don't want you to have to make that awful left hand turn across all of that traffic with out a traffic light to help you." Yep, I am my Dad.