I was enjoying another blissful Monday of doing nothing last week when my dad called. Back in college, he used to call me every day to make sure I was alive, but now that I’m all grown up, he has reduced his call volume to once a week for the sole purpose of telling me about his life. This usually involves anecdotes about his latest athletic accomplishments leading to gloomy soliloquies on geriatric health concerns leading ultimately to premonitions about his impending mortality. This time was no different.
“Mama and I went to a wedding last Saturday,” he told me. “And on the way back, we went hooligan fishing. We caught so many hooligans! 100 pounds in 30 minutes.”
“Wow,” I said, obediently.
“I wanted to stay and catch more, but Mama told me not to be greedy, so we went home. A good thing, too–we had to give most of it away, and we still barely have room for it in the freezer.”
I picked up my tweezers, sat on the toilet, and started plucking my eyebrows. “I can imagine,” I said.
He continued. “And on Sunday, we took a walk after dinner. We always make sure to walk every day now because we have to keep healthy. I’m getting old, and I can feel it. When I walk, I can sometimes feel my joints popping.”
“I’m really starting to feel old now, you know, especially these past couple years. It’s why you have to start preserving your body when you’re young. When you start aging, you feel it right away. It happens fast. For me, there was no difference between 50 and 60. But the difference between 60 and 62 is huge.”
“Uh huh.” I had heard this a million times.
“Did I tell you about my hemorrhoid a few weeks ago? The big one that I had to go to the hospital for?”
“Yeah, you did.”
“That one really hurt. It was huge. Mama told me to put some ointments on it, and for two weeks I had to soak it in warm water. It hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep on my back. I had to sleep sprawled on my stomach.”
“Yup.” I yawned and slouched against the toilet tank.
“I had to buy a butt cushion for work. It was terrible. And it happened all of a sudden. I was pooping, and bam, it just dropped out. Shows my body’s falling apart. You just never know what’s going to happen.”
“And if anything were to happen to me, you’ll have to come home to take care of business.” Lowering his voice, he said, “Because, you know, we don’t have a will.”
“Wait, we don’t have a will?” I sat up and put my tweezers down. “I thought we drafted one a couple years ago.”
“No, we were just thinking about it then, but we didn’t want to go through the trouble of hiring lawyers, so we didn’t get around to it. This means that if I die, you’re going to have to come back to support the family because Mama’s sick and Nainai’s old.”
Suffice it to say that I was no longer enjoying my Monday to the extent that I wanted. My dad’s moroseness had finally gotten to me, and like a heavy sludge, it was impossible to shake off.
I hope that this Father’s Day, my dad will take a break from his preoccupation with imminent death, but knowing him, I know that aside from frozen hooligans, it will probably be the foremost thing on his mind.