The Sunday ritual is always the same. I take my mom to church, and then we stop for lunch and afterwards, go visit my dad. My parents have been separated for 5 years now after 61 years of marriage. Someone asked them on their 55th wedding anniversary how long they’d been married. My dad answered “56 years” and my mom dope slapped him and said “it was 55 years”. My dad sighed and said “it seems like 56.” It was obvious the separation was going to happen but I suppose they were hoping it wouldn’t. Seems silly to me that mom wants to visit my dad after they separated but I guess it’s one of those things that I don’t understand.
My dad’s neighborhood is a nice place with long sloping greens that have the telltale lawnmower tire tracks that leave geometric patterns resembling Incan Nazca lines etched in the grass. The neighbors always have bright flowers that contrast with the lush spring and summer greens and yet still look good with the fall and winter browns. Mr. Simon, my dad’s new neighbor moved in the neighborhood recently so I don’t know much about him. Mrs. Hodges arrived about the same time my dad did. I continue walking and stop by to straighten out Sgt. Brown’s flowers outside his door. He was a Marine and a Korean War vet. I can imagine hearing him “talking” to his troops. I look up and see mom talking to dad from Ms. Collette’s place. Someone always knocks her flower pots over and I pick them up for her. She doesn’t thank me but I get the feeling she appreciates the effort. I start to swing back toward my dad’s place when I get to Mrs. Schaeffer’s place.
The separation has been hard on my mom and I head back to my dad’s place before my mom gets upset with him. Sometimes she gets frustrated with him and I have to listen to her rant about something he did. As I walk up the hill to his place, I see some new neighbors have arrived. One family appears to be a dad and his teenage son, a 16 year old kid. I’ll have to check later to see if he got his driver’s license. My dad’s immediate neighbors have their flowers out and they brighten up the place. My mom always complains that my dad’s flowers aren’t as good or pretty as his neighbors. What can I say? I come up to my mom and gently tug on her arm to let her know it’s time to go. “Who’s the new neighbor?” she asks. “The Youngs”, I reply, “I don’t know much about them.” My mom straightens out my dad’s entrance, always fussing with the plants. I check his entrance one last time and clean his nameplate, “Carlos Marchany, 1904-2004” before we leave only to return next Sunday.