It’s the holiday season. Even though the hubs and I don’t really get into the festive shit this time of year (no tree or blinking lights will be found at our house) it does get me thinking about my family. And today, it’s overwhelmingly, my dad. When my dad retired a few years ago, he decided he wanted to go live in the deserts of New Mexico/Arizona and shoot rattlesnakes and drink beer. Whatev. To each their own, right?
This is an email (slightly edited in the interest of protecting certain details) I sent out after our trip to
hunt him down visit him, to those that care about him and wondered what the fuck he was up to.
|The Irish do not grow ’em tall
So, we have returned from our trip to find my long lost wayward father. It was an interesting trip, but enjoyable. We flew to Page on Thursday, stayed the night at the Wahweap Lodge and headed out in our trusty rented Hyundai Friday. We stayed the night in Flagstaff at the Monte Vista Hotel. It’s said to be haunted so we were hoping to see an apparition, but no such luck. We did however stay in the Michael Stipe Suite and I could swear I heard some shitty R.E.M. songs from days past. But, maybe it was just me.
Saturday morning we were off to Rodeo! We decided to take a more scenic route than the interstate. We went down through Winslow, Snowflake and Sho Low. It was quite beautiful. We got a call from daddy at about 3:00pm, we were about 30 miles away. We pulled up to the Rodeo cafe where he instructed us to meet him and about a minute later this tiny woodsman/mountain man looking person pulled up in a mini van waving his arms at us. It was my dad! It was so good to see him finally! He took us down the road across the border into Arizona and out to his land/”house”. Patch, the hound dog, was there to greet us along with Art’s 3 dogs. Art is daddy’s friend whom he is now sharing his property with. He is about the same age as dad, is from the east coast (Boston I believe) he is Irish Catholic, he also served in the military during Viet Nam and he is also left handed like dad. They could have been separated at birth. It’s good that he has a buddy close by.
We chatted and took in the glorious wonder that is my father’s home. He was kind enough to point out, “One day Heather, this will all be yours!” Lucky me..
We headed back into Rodeo to hit the wee market before it closed. We bought some hot dogs and such and headed to our rented cottage for the night. It was a nice place run by a nice woman named Dianne. It has a laundry facility as well and apparently this is where dad comes to do his washing.
The next morning we headed out to have coffee with the boys. This is how the morning ritual at mile marker 318.3 Hwy 50 goes: Dad wakes up to check the angle of the sun. Nope, not peeking over the mountains yet, back to sleep. When he hears the generator start “next door”, he knows Art is up and making coffee. When the sun makes its appearance, dad gets up and grabs his lighter fluid to get the fire pit roaring. By this time, Art has coffee but he is just about too frozen to walk over to the fire. There they sit, drinking their coffee and throwing bits of kindling on the fire until the sun is up far enough to keep them warm. At this point, Bruce and I have shown up and Art gladly puts on more coffee for us. All I can say about that brew is this; if one was not accustomed to drinking coffee, this particular coffee could put someone in an early grave. It had such strength that no amount of spearmint infused gum could destroy it’s power. We “enjoyed” the taste of that coffee for hours after we had finished it. Mmmmm. After coffee time, Art heads off to feed his horse.
Bruce and I decided to go sight seeing down to Tombstone. Daddy declined our invitation, but informed us that we could get cigarettes just across the Mexican border for $12 per carton. Now, I love a good deal on some cigarettes, but I’m not going into Mexico to get them. I watch the news…..I know what’s going on down there! Anyway, Tombstone was cool, but Bisbee was really cool. I could have stayed longer poking around in all the shops, but we thought we’d get back to spend some more time with daddy.
It seems that he was indeed quite ill for a while, more so than anyone was aware of. Back in September he began having stomach problems which became bad enough that he was flown by helicopter to Tucson for emergency surgery. He was hospitalized for 2 weeks that time. He returned some time later and was there for another 2 weeks. He was cut open from sternum to stomach and across. I still can’t believe he never called anyone to come help him. He is now on a special diet and says he will never be the same again. The new JPC eats yogurt every morning and hasn’t had a beer in months.
All in all, he seems pretty content. From what we discovered, his daily chores consist of making coffee and gathering wood for the fire. There is a book wagon that comes once a month and daddy and Art each check out 10 books to keep them occupied. He often wakes up in the middle of the night unable to sleep, so he likes to read. Art has a telephone, so I feel better knowing that. They are also on the list to have electricity put in soon. They have been stock piling lumber to build a cabin in the near(?) future. I guess they need some permits or soils samples or some shit before they can do much. Any way, it was really good to see him and I feel much better having met a few of the locals and seeing who and what he has around him. I miss having my father close by and I guess there is no changing that. He is and always has been one to do what he wants to do, but at least I know he’s happy, and that makes me happy.
Cheers, Slainte & Merry Christmas