I have a thing for old men, and I know just when it started.
Now I said OLD men, not older. The men who catch my eye these days are the ones who need assistance ascending the stairs at church, or the elderly widowers in the grocery store with puzzled expressions and hands that tremble on their shopping carts.
At a patriotic concert, my tears pooled as a municipal band struck up a medley of hymns representing the armed forces, and the oldest men present struggled up out of their lawn chairs to stand, proud if not totally erect, when their branch was recognized.
No need to notify my husband about this quirk of mine. Mike loves me enough to pause in his crowded days to read my blogposts. And he’s the only older man (by a good six weeks) that I’m interested in. Besides, he understands that a daughter who has lost her dad still unconsciously looks for him in a crowd.
There – that tilt of a cap. See that unsteady gait. Stoop to talk, none-too-softly, with a wheelchair-bound gent in the assisted living facility.
Mike and I were at a church business meeting three years ago when an urgent call came from my brother urging us to quickly return to the hospital we had just left. Dad had taken an unexpected turn and wasn’t expected to live long. We rushed to Peoria, he rallied, and lingered two days longer until my sister arrived from overseas.
Dad was born into eternal life on the 19th of November. I warily watch that date on the calendar approach each year as if it’s a strange dog coming at me on the sidewalk. I don’t know whether it will bite me or lick my hand.
So I do what people do who have lost a loved one. I honor him in my own way.
No cemetery visits, though those are fine for some. Dad’s not there – never has been.
No ignoring the date as if “ it’s-no-big-deal- because- everyone-loses-their-parents-sometime.”
Instead I write out my remembrance, tapping away in the early dusk of a Tuesday evening as if the computer keys will unlock my heart.
On this coming Friday, the 19th of November, I will attend the event saved on my calendar: another church dinner meeting. Mike and my mom will be there too. Together we will bow our heads around a table filled with members of our church family: old men, young ones. Older women, younger ones. Babies and toddlers. The beautiful Body of Christ.
And I have a thing for them all.