139) Father’s Day Visit

June 16, 2007

El Milagro:
When I called in for an early time today, Matt the Tech checked and found out they’re full to the seams with several visitors from another center. So, he says I can’t come in til 3… which is an hour early… which I neglect to mention. Rather, I reply, “Okay. See you at 3:00”, and settle in to a home Saturday agenda of chores and kickin’ back (our first weekend without special events in months).

About noon-thirty Jo the Nurse calls and says someone walked out early (refusing to finish their treatment) so they have an open chair at 1 and do I want it. Even though I’d gotten into my Saturday routine I jump at the chance to get in and outa there early so I can be free for the evening (and go with Lizzie to a shiva gathering for Michael’s mom). So I shoot over there and get hooked up by Eloy the Tech, who is back at the center after a longish absence working in home health care, which he reports wasn’t really his cup of tea. Eloy does an okay job of stabbing me but is a little too quick and rough, reminding me about how Jason is my new favorite sticker. Today I plan to read the new New Yorker and keep track of Tiger in the 107th US Open on the new TV’s that are all installed now.

I am surprised at the New Yorker’s “Austin” edition, with San Antonio-bred Stevie Earl in The Talk of The Town and a feature article about the Harry Ransom Center entitled Letter from Austin. Maybe Austin is becoming a outlying suburb of New York. Now that is an interesting thought. I’m reading the Harry Ransom piece and absorbed in a paragraph about the kinds of infestations found in boxes of papers the center receives. “…staff members are trying to salvage a producer’s box of Hollywood scripts; the bottom of the sheets had been nibbled away by cockroaches. …Mary Baughman showed me… a hundred-square-foot freezer…. She inspected some bug traps…”* and found a spider and silverfish. They freeze these materials to the center to kill any infestations.

As I’m considering frozen insects a hand reaches in to my world and slaps my leg and I look up and it’s my son, Johnny! He and Eddie and Amy are standing there grinning. “Hey Dad! Happy Father’s Day” grinning boy says and the kids are right there in the flesh. Turns out they’ve been at Geneva’s overnight partying and are on their way back to San Antonio to drop Amy off and they head back out to Center Point to the camp. We talk for about half and hour about Eddie’s 21st birthday plans, Johnny’s surfing in Corpus and losing his wallet, and Amy’s finishing college and planning to teach. I ask Amy about her and John, and she replies with a curious smile that they are still “just friends” and John ignores the whole moment. John plans to come back up here next weekend to visit. I talk them into stopping by Kim’s to see the new baby and they head out and I think that they are genuinely enjoying the freedom of their youth. We parents delight vicariously in their youth while we worry about their crashing their cars while rushing through their freedom years. It’s the plight of parenthood.

I read on until I’m tired of that activity and then finish out the session watching Tiger catch up in the Open. Although he is playing well, his putting seems off to me. But he gets close enough to finish up in the lead tomorrow. Such focus and devotion and class this guy has… he is fun to watch. At some point I call Jo the Nurse over and ask her for more details about the person who walked on their treatment. She reports that this unnamed person decided to leave after an hour of dialysis and I ask “Why?” Jo doesn’t know and she only retorts almost defensively that “I can’t make people stay for their whole session.” But why do they leave? Don’t they understand this is really important? “Some people just don’t get it, no matter how much we try to explain the need for complete treatment.” Tell me more, I implore; and she again replies, “They just wanted to leave and I don’t know why”, and it is left as a mystery to me, even though I’ve seen folks walk out. I want to write something in the newsletter about this, but will have to figure out how to make it a helpful piece rather than a scolding piece.

I also ponder Johnny’s Father’s Day visit and my own relations with my dad. Does he get as thrilled when his kids visit as I do? Does the thrill lessen over the years? I remember father-son activities from past years, searching my memories for visions of those times. The ones that come up include desert trips with Army canteens slapping our sides and Dad’s plaid shirts and well-worn khacki pants, and the bows (and arrows in crafted leather quivers) we took to hunt rabbits. I also recall times in the garage being fascinated with his tools and how he knew everything about how to use them to do magic with wood and radios. And how I thought for years that everything he said, modeled, and thought was The Truth with a capitol “T”. When he criticized my lawn mowing and edging he was guiding me towards my own parental behaviors and statements with my kids; and Johnny adjusted well to hearing my own criticisms towards ‘perfection’. Katie and Shayna not as much, but maybe that’s because they’re girls. Who knows how to deal with girls? Certainly not me. As Father’s Day approaches these are my thoughts and I am tickled pink that Johnny makes it by to say “Hi”, and I too will call my Dad to say “Hi” tomorrow.

Notes: In at 74.3 and out at 72.2 Kgs.

*Max, D.T. (June 11&18, 2007) Letter from Austin: Final destination. New Yorker Magazine. p. 66.
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