the Old Black Man and I have the strangest interactions. Come to think of it, I suppose it is the case that since we have very few actual interactions, those interactions are rather strange simply in their rarity. Nonetheless, our interaction tonight was somewhat stranger than many before it - recently.
He opened my bedroom door - the only door in the house ever regularly closed - poking his head in as he is wont to do, and asked me to 'trim the hairs off the back o' [his] neck'. Last night, he peeked in to drop some random gossip on me ... and ask me to program his universal remote.
The gossip was rather interesting, so more on that in a moment.
He asked me to trim his hair, which is our standard 'bonding' ritual. It takes 15 minutes or so, but my father takes advantage of the fact that I am near him, awake, and often very conversational - if only because of the cosmetology training. the Old Black Man views it as an opportunity to inquire about my job prospects, my love life, the status of various friendships - the friends who've been around for a decade or more, and thus whose names he recalls. the Frenemy and Ellen are pretty much the only ones about whom he inquires. He views it as a chance to catch up with his often quiet and occasionally distant (gay) son ... and I find it an opportunity to talk with my father when he neither yells nor chides but simply listens. That I have sharp objects near his head and trim his ear hair probably has something to do with this fact - but I am not one to question the God's precious little gifts.
Speaking of which, my father is returning to the church. This is not to imply that he ever left the church. As I comment often, my mornings are filled with the 5AM chorale wonders of KCHL (Gospel 1480 AM), and my father typically returns home from church on Sunday to watch church on TV, listen to church on the radio, and sometimes play gospel records on the Hi-Fi. So, when he told me he was considering being an usher, I had to first search my mind for what that means in a Southern Baptist church, and ... when I assured myself there were no sacrificial chickens or speaking in tongues required ... I encouraged it.
It may be a short-term solution to getting him out of the house on the occasional Wednesday night and all-day Sunday, but it is also my hope that he will socialize as he has not done in some time. As Ellen and I discussed tonight, my 85-years old father looked and acted like someone half his age for such a long time that the happenstance of his suddenly having memory loss, suddenly forgetting where he's going, or driving straight in a turn-only lane (and narrowly avoiding an F350) strikes me particularly hard.
I haven't had to lie to a displaced girlfriend, make excuses for him being seen with another woman, or even had to cover for his being gone for the better part of a weekend in a long, long time. This is a man who - allegedly - cheated on my mother for 31 years of a 42 years marriage. Surely, his philandering days are not over. His cousin, Aurelius Bea, was still ogling neighbor-ladies until he was 101.
So, yes ... I encouraged my father to return to the church - ostensibly to get some action.