A Walk with Dad

“We sure like it here.”

“It’s very beautiful, Dad. You’re really lucky.”
Dad and I step onto the seawall just outside my parent’s apartment block in West Vancouver and join the Saturday morning throngs of joggers and walkers and strollers. Everyone we pass smile–except maybe the joggers who stare blankly at some fixed point far behind us.
“We sure like it here.”
“Yes, it’s lovely.”
The air this morning is a little bit warmer than it has been this very chilly May. The sun hides behind clouds, but at least the rain is holding off. The sea and sky and mountains are all slightly different shades of gray. The overall impression is of softness. Comfortable and familiar. Like my dad.
“Low tide,” he says, nodding towards the bare rocks.
“Is it going in or out?”
Shrug. “We sure like it here.”
“Yes, it’s very beautiful.”
We walk on and I work on finding something else to say. “Lots of freighters out there today. More than usual?”
Shrug. “Don’t ask me.”
“You see a lot of cruise ships this time of year.”
A flash of enthusiasm. “Yeess! They’re really something.”
“They come in first thing in the morning and go out in the evening, don’t they?”
Shrug. “Guess so.” Pause. “We sure like it here.”
“I know Dad, it’s really lovely. You’re very lucky.”
“We sure are.”
We walk on. A bed of deep red tulips catches my eye.
“Look at those tulips, dad.”
“Aren’t they something?”
“Gorgeous. I love the red.”
“They really are something.”
“I like the way they go with all those blue flowers.”
“We sure like it here.”
“Yes, Dad, it’s lovely. Someone must do a lot of work to keep these beds looking so good.”
“See those orange ones over there?”
“They’re almost done for.”
Ah, the entomologist is back for a few moments. It’s funny which bits remain and which bits go away. “They sure are. Someone will be digging them up soon.”
“Guess so. Boy, you know we sure love it here.”
“And no wonder! See these lovely green ones, Dad. Euphorbia, I think.”
“Don’t ask me.” A bit of agitation. Dad used to know the names of all the plants and I think he remembers that he used to know. I change tack quickly.
“We have lots of Euphorbia in our garden. It should still be out when you come up.”
“To our house on Bowen Island, Dad. To our garden. There’s lots of work to do. Tons of weeding.”
“And who’s going to do it?”
I glance sideways at him, gauging where he’s at. Is the question a real one or is he pulling my leg? Dad was always a great one for pulling my leg. He used to be extremely good at it.
“You, of course!”
He laughs, a spark of the old Dad shining through. He was pulling my leg. I smile to myself and I remember.
            “We love it here.”
            My smile fades just a little as I remember so much of what he can’t anymore.

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