It ain’t easy.
My parents are getting older. My mother remembers very little – what she ate at the last meal, where she visited yesterday.
It is kind of heart-breaking, really.
I’ve joked that it is hard raising parents these days.
They have spent months in Spain every winter, escaping the snow and cold of the Northeast. Who can blame them? My father retired 20+ years ago and they joined a local group from PA to visit Costa del Sol sometime in the late 90’s.
It seems like yesterday.
Every year I thought I would get there, too, and join them. But I never did.
Until this year.
This year it happened. Things came together. I bought a ticket for $279 USD. I booked a room for 7 days for even less and I flew to Spain at the end of Feb.
My relationship with my dad has never been easy.
In the past few years, he has suggested I color my hair to make myself more attractive to men. He is full of advice and opinions, none of which I requested.
HUMPF! Forget that. How to explain I do not care to spend time and money, bathed in chemicals TO PLEASE SOMEONE ELSE?!?
We exist on two very distant universes. I do not think he will ever understand mine.
I think I have come to understand his… and this trip helped.
I was in NYC when they called from Newark Airport, “You need a negative Covid test. We just found out and we are getting a ride to a test center!”
Despite hours spent on the various websites – CDC, the Country of Spain as well as Portugal’s none of us concluded that we needed the test, until they showed up at the airport.
Thankfully, my son knew where to get a test a little before 5 p.m. on a Saturday in Manhattan.
A few hours later, my test results in hand, I arrived at JFK, flew first to Portugal, then to Málaga where I caught a taxi to Torremolinos.
A weight lifted from my back when I set down my bag.
Not for long. This time it was replaced by a physical mass – could I carry the groceries back to the apartment in my backpack? Sure. I put the melon in first. It was the size of a small watermelon, and they were so excited to find it.
Every breakfast in Spain includes Spanish melon for good reason. It was delicious.
Our days were spent on a tour bus or walking – in Gibraltar, Málaga, Torremolinos. We poked around in museums, thrift stores, pop-up markets and boardwalk shops.
We ate a breakfast every morning around 9 a.m. and then journeyed out.
Our days focused around food. We like to eat. 😉
We walked – my parents linking arms and me, occasionally taking my mother’s open hand to help her up a curb, onto a bus. She is not as strong as she was, and once, she caught her foot on uneven pavement and stumbled.
She twirled in front of my dad, who held tightly to her arm, keeping them both upright.
I exhaled loudly, realizing how close we had come to disaster. A fall at this age, is never good. In fact, people over the age of 70 are 3 times as likely to die from a fall. See below to confirm: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/for-elderly-even-short-falls-can-be-deadly
They have faced health-related emergencies in Spain before, and told me about it later. My father’s Spanish is good and the healthcare system is laudable in España, especially compared to the U.S.
“Aren’t you glad I make you walk the stairs at home?” my dad asked.
My mother did not reply.
“Ev, you are walking more with Cath here than three times what you do at home!” he exclaimed often.
I checked my phone. Yes, we did over 10,000 steps a day, easily. Even with bus rides.
Getting little support from my mom, he turned to me, “We are walking more here than we have in years!”
I had to laugh.
“And in all my years of living, I have never walked as slowly!”
We all laughed.
I am so grateful they have each other and my father has turned into a kind care-giver, something I would have never imagined.
Although I should have. I recall now how he was the one to meet me in the bathroom late at night when I lost my stomach as a child. When my appendix became inflamed around the age of 10, he put me between them in their king-size bed, waking me to take my temperature and ultimately into the hospital.
Our relationship is so much better when I focus on what he does that is positive.
And that is a lot, especially of late.
Thank you, Dad.
Thank you Spain.