Last night, as I walked by my Dad's private bedroom in his private little father-in-law house at the front of the main house, I noticed that all of his lights were on. The light on the ceiling. The light on the nightstand. And the light in his closet. The TV was on. The bathroom light was on. And the heater was working overtime.
Has my Dad, in his old age, become afraid of the dark?
In fact, now that I think about it, where was my Dad?
He was in the great room, sitting in his-my-favorite chair.
(In case you've always wondered why I always refer to his favorite chair as my favorite chair, it's because before my wife and I decided to invite him to live with us, that used to be my chair. He had his chair, back in the house he used to live in when my Mom was still alive, and it went with him to the very nice apartment he moved into after she died. When we were moving his furniture to our house, he decided not to take that chair.
"I don't need it," he told us. "I'll mostly be staying in my room. Plus, I've always liked sitting on your couch. It's comfortable."
And I believed him.
So we sold it in a garage sale where, as I told my wife, he spent thousands to make hundreds.)
With one eyeball he was trying to watch baseball on the TV, with the other eyeball he was trying to pay as little attention as he could, and still be polite, to my wife, because she was showing him the pair of thermal underwear she had just bought for him. He's always complaining about being cold, and she keeps making the mistake of listening to his complaints.
My wife had given him a pair of thermals that used to belong to her. He liked them, that is, until she made the mistake of telling him they used to be hers. There's no difference between a man's or a woman's thermal underwear, but, he didn't want them because they were, as he said, "a woman's." It's not like they were pink with pictures of Brad Pitt on them.
"Who's going to see you in them, Dad?" I asked him. Does he sneak a woman into his house when we all go to bed?
For an old man who's about ready to shake hands with the century mark, he sure is picky.
But my wife always makes the mistake of having a kind heart, so she went out and bought him a new pair. To make a long story short...
...he didn't like them either. He told her to give them to someone else.
Give them to someone else?
Who else is 5'2" and 110 pounds?
I have no idea why my Dad gives us such trouble whenever we buy him something new to wear. (Well, my wife buys it. I just pay for it.) My Dad wears a sweater that's practically older than me. He wears t-shirts that he bought when JFK was passing off his female interns to other members of his cabinet.
And he complains about the new stuff?
My Dad has a lot of new clothes, but why he doesn't wear them, I have no idea. I guess I was the same way when I was in high school and would only wear my favorite pair of jeans. I'd wear them to school, and then put them in the hamper for my Mom to wash that night so I could wear them the following day. And my Mom always would.
She had a good heart, too. But back to my Dad...
I keep telling my wife to quit buying him clothes-"He doesn't wear them," I tell her.- but she doesn't listen. When we're shopping, she'll always find him something.
He has a nice new sweater and a nice new jacket to wear for his walks. He has new shirts, new shorts, and new socks. He'll wear the socks, complaining all the time that they're not as comfortable as his old socks, but everything else is as new as the day I paid for them.
Last week, against her wise husband's better judgement, my wife bought him a pair of pants.
My Dad: "They're too long."
"They're not too long, Dad. Try them on." He does.
My Dad: "They're too short."
"They're not too short, Dad. Walk around in them."
My Dad: "They're too tight."
"They're not too tight, Dad. They look good."
My Dad: "They're too loose."
"They're not too loose, Dad. How can they be too tight and too loose at the same time?"
My Dad: "The material's too thick."
"The material's not too thick, Dad. It's cold outside. You need a thicker material when the weather turns cold."
My Dad: "The material's too thin."
Sometimes I'm almost positive my Dad is just messing with me.
"So your Dad doesn't like anything you buy him, eh?" my buddy Maloney laughed, when I was complaining to him.
"Only all the time," I groused.
And then Maloney told me the following story:
"The other day I picked up a stick that was in my driveway. As I walked in the house, my mother-in-law asked me, 'What's that?'
"I don't know if she was just wondering what I was doing with a stick in my hand, or if she was asking me because she couldn't tell what I was carrying. Her eyesight's bad. When she does the dishes, my wife has to do them all over again, because they're never clean or rinsed properly.
"'It's a stick,' I told her.
"'Yeah, a stick. I bought it for you.'
"'Yes. For you.'
"She took the stick, gratefully, and it's now on top of the television set in her room, where she can admire it while she's watching TV. She's from a small town in Mexico, where she grew up poor. Her mother died when she was practically a toddler, and an aunt of hers took her in, and treated her like an unpaid servant. I don't think anyone was ever thoughtful enough to give her a stick before.
"For Christmas, I'm planning on giving her a rock."
...sometimes I'm almost positive he's just messing with me.