My father has always been somewhat eccentric, prone to tall tales of his childhood, keeping collections of old knickknacks and assorted antiquities he’d find at auction, and strict adherence to bizarre house rules. Growing up in his home, the same home he grew up in, that was passed down from generation to generation, took a lot of willpower. He would say it “built a lot of character.” My mom would always say he was a character.
So it came as no surprise to me when a friend in the area called to let me know my dad had caught a case of pneumonia after they’d found him wandering around during the season’s heaviest snowfall in just an old pair of jeans and a wife beater. Since my mother had passed away, his bizarre behavior had grown increasingly erratic.
Some good Samaritans offered to drop in once or twice a day, but I didn’t want them to have to deal with my his idiosyncrasies, so I drove up to the old homestead to nurse him back to health myself. I hadn’t been back to that house since I’d finished school back in 1998. It had always been a point of contention between us, but I just never felt comfortable there.
When I arrived, my father was curled up on the couch in the living room, wrapped in blankets and watching old episodes of The Woodwright Shop on the same TV he’d had for thirty years. I gave him a hug which he mostly ignored in favor of sipping at a cup of tea.
“It’s good to see you, Dad.”
“You know, it shouldn’t take me catching pneumonia to get you to come visit,” he grunted.
“How’d you end up with no shoes in the middle of a snowstorm?”
He stared at the television, trying to ignore me.
“What were you doing out there, Dad?”
“If you’re going to stay, make sure you follow the rules. You remember the rules, don’cha?”
I sighed. “Yes, Sir.”
“So let’s hear them.”
“Don’t touch the thermostat. Don’t leave lights on in rooms you aren’t occupying. Replace any food you take from the fridge.”
“And stay out of the basement.”
“Because of the Jack Monster,” I said.
My father nodded and sipped his tea. Read More »