My father made a rare appearance sometime early this morning.
We were sitting in the living room of my parents’ house in Kahala, my father in the chair that had been his regular spot. I had no sense of how we got there or what else was going on, but it somehow seemed relatively normal. Although he died more than two years ago, at this moment he looked pretty good.
He was wearing a pair of clean but well-worn shorts and a t-shirt, reading glasses in place. I didn’t notice if he was wearing shoes or slippers.
He had some papers in his hand, a once strong hand which had become increasingly unsteady over the past decade, so the papers shook as he gestured towards me with them.
“I saw this in the newspaper,” he said, angling the papers so that I could see a small item he had carefully clipped.
“The airport has some new insurance requirements for venders,” he said, nodding towards the clipping. “Maybe you know somebody to handle that for me?”
I was mentally sorting through the insurance people I’ve dealt with when I caught myself. Too much wrong here. He obviously had some idea about going back into business. Before he retired from his restaurant equipment and supply business at age 85, he had talked about holding on to a couple of the best product lines that he could continue to represent. He was always a good salesman, and might have made it work. Instead, he just went fishing. Perhaps this was the reemergence of that prior plan.
I turned and moved a chair over to face him. I remember it was a low, wood and canvas captain’s chair. I don’t recall there being one like this in the house before, but there it was. I sat down, looked into my father’s face.
“This isn’t a good idea,” I said, trying to figure out how to say what needed to be said. “For one thing, you’ve got Alzheimer’s, and you couldn’t keep track of things well enough to be in business again.”
As I spoke, I remember trying to find a way to avoid saying the most obvious thing: “And you’re dead, so it’s just not going to work.”
I found a gentler tack, harkening back to those times in the nursing home when we would make up excuses whenever he would get agitated and obsessed with where he parked the car or what he had done with his wallet.
“Meda took the car home to keep it safe, so you don’t have to worry,” we would say. Or I would tell him that I was paying all the bills, so he could just relax and enjoy the hotel service (in his mind, the nursing home was a hotel, or sometimes he thought it was the old Commercial Club in downtown Honolulu).
I tried something similar. “The problem is that we’ve already closed down your bank accounts, so it would be pretty hard to set up new ones and go back to work.”
And you’re dead, I said in my mind, but in my dream I held my tongue, trying hard not to offend.
But my dream couldn’t contain the complexity of the scene and it abruptly ended. He was gone and I was partly awake, still in bed, several cats casting low shadows as they prowled the room in hopes breakfast might be coming soon.
I later realized this dream was likely triggered by the closing of my dad’s remaining bank account, the one which holds the savings which managed to outlast his two years in a nursing home. After his death, it had been set aside in trust for my mother’s care, if needed. With her passing, I’m in the process of closing the account and moving on. I thought this was pretty routine, purely a straightforward process, but obviously there’s more emotion hidden behind the scenes than I expected to be dealing with.