Mixed Blessings

by Dani

This week we move back home. All seven of us to include one Potter League Pit-Lab and two domestic black rats.  For the past three summers we’ve moved out of our home for two to three weeks and rented our house to visiting, out of town, families. We’ve taken vacations with friends and then spent the rest of the time visiting with my in laws at their summer home in Maine.

This year we decided to try an experiment and move into another house here locally, vacating our home for six weeks. Having been conditioned to make the best of things I went into this with a pretty open mind.

Cutting your living space by seventy five percent as a married couple with two young children and your dad in tow is, without question, a pretty big roll of the dice.

Papa did have a life before he moved to the island and he certainly had other options for summer lodging. He could have stayed with his other daughter or spent time with some old friends back at home, but he opted not to. He decided to stay with us. He told me that this was his home. It’s where he belongs. I think it was the most heartfelt thing he’s ever said to me.

The summer is just about over and I have to say that living in close quarters wasn’t what I expected. I believe in expecting the best and bracing for the worst. A principle I applied when preparing my in laws to meet my parents. Papa was, unbeknownst to us, mid-stroke, which kept him from drinking, yet didn’t prevent him from referring to my father in law’s plans for his long anticipated retirement home as, “A F-ing box with a roof.”

Having everyone within arms reach was good for all of us. Without his recliner, mini fridge and own cable box, Papa was forced to spend time with his family. Without question he has watched more Phineus and Ferb episodes than a grown man ever would or should.  And my children can now add Stallone, Arnold, Willis and Heston to their most admired lists.

With my father in the next room it was easy to sneak in at night and steal his dirty clothes, wash them and place them back without his knowledge. (“Tabernac, I don’t do anything to get dirty.”) I plan to keep this practice up at home.

The social pressure of pack living has moved him to increase his weekly shower schedule from one to two or three per week and he has actually started shaving in the bathroom sink vs. in his bedroom chair. The tap tap tapping of razor on steel radiator as one dry shaves in their microsuede recliner is enough to drive the most mild mannered of adult children bat-shit crazy and I’m ever grateful for his new use of a more socially acceptable method of grooming.

I’m curious if he’ll keep it up when we get home. He’ll be the first to admit his skin has never looked so good.