Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September of My Years

My dad turned 95 years old this year!  I flew out to Tucson to help celebrate.  A person gets to be that age ought to be commended if only for making it that long. He's in good condition considering all his health issues.  You collect a real roster of illnesses the longer you live.  The elderly, babies and drunks are very similar.  It's a miracle they make it each day because there are so many close calls.  My dad fainted the day before and fell recently on the front sidewalk getting the mail and couldn't get up but had no life alert.  He hangs onto the walls when walking to the bathroom for dear life he says.  I just held my breath watching him and wondered how my niece isn't a complete wreck.  But he's all there, sharp as ever really.  We all have our good and bad days.  He can't hear for shit even with those giant ears and is legally blind but manages surprisingly well.
I got there a couple of days early to get acclimated.  I really love the way Tucson feels after a whole bunch of Brooklyn.  I walked from the hotel room a couple of times which took a good hour and a half.  No one walks in that town, rightfully so.  But if you do it early enough and beat the harsh sun, it's pretty spectacular.  Its like a virtual reality television set.  The sun is so bright and there is so much space.  Room for everyone and then some, surrounded by mountains and beautiful clear blue skies.  It surprises me they took the time to make pedestrian sidewalks.  It's rare to pass someone but when you do wander across another human on foot it's as if they just appear then vanish into the clouds afterwards.
And I love the way my niece's house felt all quiet and breezy, the sound of the screen door slamming behind me.  My dad was reading the paper when I arrived and the baby was napping.  My dad's interesting with hellos and goodbyes.  He did say hi at first, I gave him a big hug but then he went back to reading the newspaper.  So, I sat down nervously to assess the situation. I took some quick pictures.  I didn't take it personally, he would talk eventually.  He has his own way, best to embrace it.  I took the opportunity to look around, relax and just be in the moment. Personally, I was so thrilled to be able to come and here I was finally, there.  Financially, this was not a great time for me to visit.  I am struggling a bit.  I didn't come bearing an amazing gift or any gift for that matter.  I had no idea how we could celebrate after days of racking my brain.  I'm not a huge big name draw as far as family goes.  It was just important for me to be there.
I passed a Taco Bell but not by any accident.  I dreamed of this, those simple pleasures I often speak of.  I planned to bring a bag full of breakfast tacos, burritos, quesadillas and grab an iced coffee about 45 minutes into the walk as the location was right on the way.  I always perform better with a little food incentive.
The food was great when we shared meals like these homemade Enchiladas prepared by my niece and a very impressive version of my mom's rice by her husband.

My nephew-in-law?? Is that a real thing?
We visited my mother's grave site.  Knowing it would be tough my niece was so kind to stop for nice flowers beforehand and gave me time to sit and just be.  Even though I never feel the deceased are at their burial place I do believe its a sacred spot to leave your thoughts and prayers.  Actually I wanted to just lay on the ground and bawl my eyes out.  No matter what, the world changes when your mom is no longer in it.
One day the gods looked down on me and they bought a huge vat of pulled pork, 3 salsas, pico de gallo, onions, limes and warm torts plus a pot of pinto beans.  You could just make your own tacos or whatever you wanted.  This is one of my favorite ways to eat Mexican food. 

 I was lucky enough to see a huge downpour and the wash almost flooded out.  
My niece took me to Davis to check out the boneyard. We tried to find the type of helicopter my other nephew flies but we were on a mission to bring groceries and ran out of time.  Talk about a dreamy place.  The combination of sun, extreme heat, quiet and all that space that just goes on and on is hypnotic.

insert several heart and adoring emoji's for these two!

Morning chilaquiles and strawberries, again made by my niece.  In fact in a house with all these cooks I don't believe I made a thing.  May I just mention that everyone on the planet has these same paper plates, me included.  I just find that so funny.

A little bird lingered and chirped up a blue streak to where we figured it may be my mom saying hello. 

On his actual birthday my other gorgeous sparkly niece drove down and we decided to get dad out to see old Tucson, maybe watch a gun fight reenactment.

And of course it was closed.  Not one of us are good planners.  But it didn't matter because the drive was just long enough and very scenic.  We stopped at a lookout point but dad was not able to get out.  The sun was full blast and I felt safer him staying in the truck so I for one was happy he didn't try it.

My sister made these two humans.  It still boggles my mind that women can make people. 
We found the perfect spot to eat right before everyone peed their pants.  After driving back realizing none of the cute restaurants were open in Saguaro National Park I was panicking in my head that this was gonna end bad. An outside bathroom for my dad to easily get to, praise the Lord! 
An afterthought but thank goodness we ordered this amazing platter of something called Nachos de ceviche.  Whatever it was the flavors were on point!  There was a vinegar-citrusy sort of dressing so it became like a Bloody Mary, shrimp cocktail nacho salad with these amazing home made Frito-like chips.  Right up my mash-up alley.  And they had all the cute condiments which I also appreciate.
Later, I was able to sit outside with my dad and film him a little talking about the war, the restaurant and mom.  When you come to the point of enjoying your parents for just being a person sitting next to you it really is the best gift. We sang later and brought him cake with candles. I hope it felt special enough. 
I always feel like a different person at the end of a trip so when I got back to the hotel I felt the need to snap a selfie. I was dog tired, no make up, sad and happy at the same time.  I felt like an old little kid.

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