My sister Kimberly with my Dad during her visit this July. We all did a lot of laughing together.
My sister and I showed up on the steps of our childhood home this morning with pancakes and coffee from McDonalds. Dad clapped his hands when he saw my sister.
"But are there two Kimberlys?" he asked. He was pretty sure she was his daughter, but he was expecting a little girl. Gradually in the hours we spent together, he got used to her again and kept telling her how happy he was to see her.
"I was so surprised I almost fell out of my chair," he said.
"It is a good thing you didn't," my sister wrote to my father--who is deaf. "You would have hurt yourself!" They both laughed. It was a great time for Dad.
Dad kept clapping his hands all morning with glee. "It's a family reunion. All the Chapmans are here!" Dad loves things these days the way a child does and it is a pleasure to see him so delighted.
Even our neighbor's dog Sunny came over to visit, making Dad even happier--if that were possible. Sunny is as old in dog years as my Dad is in human ones. Dad helped train Sunny a decade ago when her owner was struck down with cancer. Her owner died and Sunny is now devoted to her original owner's son and to my father, whom she always remembers. Sunny limps badly now from hip dysplasia and her body is wracked with tumors. Still, when she sees my father she wags her tail. The two are old dogs together.
Dad with his friend Sunny, about ten years ago.
Dad is familiar with the things and the people he sees every day, so he knows Sunny and he knows me and knows I live nearby. But since my sister is only able to come to California from her home in Colorado every few months, Dad forgets in between times that he has seen her.
"I haven't seen her since she was baby," he said the other day. I told him he had seen her, but he had forgotten. He shook his head.
"My mind is all mixed up," he said. He is still well enough to understand that--some of the time. Most of the time, mercifully, he is not.
It is always a joy when my sister comes. She takes the pressure off me for the time she is here and the helps lift the weight of caring for our two elderly loved ones. She always provides moral support and advice at the end of a phone line. Now that she's here, we also share the work. Her skills are different from mine, so, for example, she is happy to help Mom with the banking--something I hate to do.
Robin and Kimmy in Colorado.
My sister is also a great cook. If I supply her with a glass of wine and turn her loose in my kitchen, I can watch old movies or read the newspaper and the most wonderful things turn up on my dinner table. It is a delight. I'd have her cook for me every night but her husband back in Colorado would probably object.
So this week the Chapman family is on a good track: we are together, in our own fracturered way, and we are united in our love, as flawed as that is. Blessings, when they come now, are fleeting enough to hold tight to and treasure. And if you throw in a couple of gourmet dinners created by my talented sister, you have to feel lucky indeed. I'll remember to save a doggie bag for Dad, and for his good pal Sunny.