Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Live Oak

Emily and I just got home last night from the 20th annual Live Oak Music Festival in Santa Barbara county. We went there with my dad and his wife Deborah and met up with my younger sister Teri and my younger brother Ben.

It was wonderful. We haven't had that much fun together in a long time—honestly, I've NEVER had that much fun around Deborah. For the first time in 28 years, she totally let down her guard and I was surprised to find that she can be really funny.

Teri also has a dry, biting, sarcastic sense of humor, which is absolutely hilarious. When the two of them get into verbal sparring, the rest of us are reduced to fits of laughter. The kind where our stomachs hurt and our eyes water.

This is the first time, however, that I’ve gotten acknowledgement from them that they also see how difficult Teri can be; how easily offended she is and how it often feels like we’re being judged by her. It was reassuring to know that’s not just the Portland half of the family.

My dad is clearly getting older and the stroke affected him more than I realized. He has virtually no short-term memory, which is very frustrating after a while. Worse than a little kid because he's not willful, he's just completely unaware that he forgot to do what's been asked of him. We had to throw out half a gallon of milk because he forgot to put it away, though he was reminded about 4 times.

On Sunday morning, Teri told our dad 6 or 8 times that she was leaving that day—the last time, he said, “I know—You’ve told me already!”, at which point it turned into a joke where we would all mention Teri’s eminent departure every 10 minutes or so. But about 3 hours after she left, he asked where she was. I said, “She had to go home today.” He said, “Oh, wait. I thought you were leaving today.” I reminded him that Emily and I flew down and would be there until Tuesday. He remembered then, but it took a while. That sort of stuff makes me very sad and Deborah cries a lot, too. I can’t begin to imagine the stress of that day after day.

Despite that, he has a good sense of humor about his inability to remember shit. Yesterday morning, Emily crawled into his bed and told him that she wasn't moving for him or anyone. He took a fake boxer-stance with his fist raised and said, "Oh yeah, Kid? I'll remember that!", and when I said, "No you won't!", he completely cracked up.

I love hearing my dad laugh. I miss him.