Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Killing my father-in-law

Okay, now that I have your attention, let me tell you another yarn from my memory banks. Barbara's father lived to see his 100th birthday, and he was a sharp witted enjoyable guy almost til the end. He got to ride horseback on his 98th birthday, but that is another story.

When he was a mere 96, we traveled east to see him. The family that lived across the street from our family (40 years ago now) had moved their parents to an elegant retirement community near Lancaster, PA. Combining the two visits seemed wise. Quarryville, where dad was living in retirement, is an excellent place to spend one's latter years. There were always alternate choices of cuisine, and the tables were set with fine plates, crystal goblets and cloth napkins. It was clean and comfortable. The place is populated with former ministers, their wives and assorted Presbyterian retirees. One of dad's table mates was the professor who wrote the Hebrew grammar from which I first learned the language. At another point in his long stay in Quarryville, he had a lady table mate who, with dad, did so much laughing at lunch that they were frequently asked to tone it down. He used to bring a page from his joke telling desk calendar for her to read, and they would giggle and guffaw like 4th graders.

It turns out that the dining hall at the other retirement place was a step higher in elegance than the beloved Quarryville. We had to show dad. Since our friends invited us all to dine with them, we took dad to taste for himself. But when we put him in the wheelchair and headed for the elevator, we were told that the elevator had stopped working. We were not to be thwarted, however, and decided to carefully maneuver the stairs with dad still in the chair. Now the caveat was this; I was still recovering from hip replacement surgery. My progress must have been a trifle slower than I thought. This was a short flight of stairs, because there was a landing after about 6 stairs before the stairwell doubled back to reach the next floor with another set of stairs. I carefully navigated the first stair, tilting the wheelchair back and taking one step at a time. The second stair also went without incident, but about the third stair I began to realize that I had tragically over-estimated my repaired hip, and by the time we hit the fourth stair something tragic was ominous. My footing was compromised, and the chair slipped from my hands.

To this day I can replay, in slow motion, the picture of my aged father in law tipping out of his chair, hands flailing in the air, and the chair crashing after him to the landing. What have I done!! I've killed my wife's father! No bones were protruding, no blood was evident, and he even was able to gain his feet soon after. But the remainder of our trek down the stairs, dad chose to take the stairs on his feet with a tight hold on the banister.

Later that evening, as we dined elegantly at the other home's buffet, dad made a joke about his son-in-law trying to kill him. It was at that point in the evening that I knew he was his old self, and had successfully survived my ostensible attempt on his life.

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