Slowly,slowly! It’s too nice a job to rush. (Columbia, Rocky Horror Picture Show)
These words emphatically do not apply to jet-washing the patio in the rain with your elderly father, with his post-brain injury OCD and short temper, while he points and shouts aphasic orders from his mobility scooter.
It takes a certain level of diplomacy to help someone who has tried to do a job on his own for hours and then has to watch your able body complete the same tasks in minutes.
I am painfully aware that many of my peers would give anything to be shouted at in the rain by their fathers, and would happily throw away their ruined sheepskin boots for the privilege. I will never forget that his stroke has been harder on my Dad than any of us.
But sometimes, forgive me, I let myself feel hard done by. I become that sulky child and want to slam my bedroom door, shouting “I didn’t ask to be born”.
But I want to have a relationship with my Dad that is better than “I’m glad you’re not dead”. He does rely on me for some things but he hates that he has to. My new house will have a downstairs bedroom so it’s easy for him to stay (although I have told him that if the worst time comes, he’ll have to pay someone else to wipe his bum). Being a parent reminds me that sometimes taking care of the people you love is a pain in the arse. You only do these things for the people you love. Love and Duty – can’t have one without the other. It’s one of nature’s ingenious Catch 22s – it’s how and why we have stayed in tribes and troops from the beginning.
He was delighted with the clean patio. And I needed new boots anyway.
[Image: my Dad starring in E.T. v Cocoon.]