Monday, June 22, 2009

My last tank of gas?

When my dad approached seventy, I noticed his sense of mortality was taking hold. My parents attended more funerals of their friends and a number of personalities who meant a lot to them started dying, including:

Liberace – Mom loved his flamboyancy. Dad never appreciated piano players who couldn’t advance the timing on a 1966 Pontiac.

Ray Bolger, Scarecrow – I remember the anticipation of the Wizard of Oz’ annual airing. There were no DVDs, DVRs, VCRs, Video on Demand or iTunes; just three over-the-air channels. If you missed it, you waited a year for another chance. Mom made sure that we didn’t miss it. Dad didn’t think much of people dressing up in costumes and skipping around on a soundstage. Not a real job.

Andy Warhol – I don’t think either of my parents knew anything about this guy, but they loved his soup.

Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, Bob Fosse – Musicals weren’t high on my dad’s must-see list, although if any of these guys had choreographed the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders’ routines, he would have been appreciative.

Lorne Greene – We never missed Bonanza. Ben Cartwright was a strong and wise man—just like my dad. Ben was a true patriot from the Great American West. I don’t think my dad knew he was from Canada.

Dan Rowan – Mom laughed and laughed at Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Most of the time, Dad snored and snored, though it was hard to ignore Goldy Hawn’s skimpy outfits. But when the same show was reworked into a hillbilly format, Hee Haw, Dad was front and center, enjoying every minute of it.

Dealing with your own mortality is an interesting thing. You start realizing that your possessions are going to be around when you’re not. I remember when my parents bought a Toyota Cressida. Dad declared that it was the last car he would ever buy. That’s an attention-grabbing thought.

He bought a set of tires for his pickup and told me that they’re probably the last set of tires he would buy. After suffering a couple of strokes, I could see that Dad was seriously contemplating his demise.

I did my best to break him out of this morbid thought pattern. He’d fill up the truck and I’d say, “Dad, that’s not your last tank of gas, is it?” He’d laugh and then I’m sure he would ponder whether it was, in fact, his last tank of gas.

Mary and I bought a house last week and spent Friday and the weekend moving all of our stuff to the new place. My son, Jeff, and his friend, Jake, flew up from Texas to provide the muscle for our move. Thank goodness for all of their help, along with Jerry, Bill, Cindy and others who pitched in.

This morning, I’m beat up, bruised, and so stiff I can hardly make my way downstairs. My knees are locked, my toes are pointing in odd directions, and I can’t turn my neck more than 30 degrees without letting out a screech.

Having relocated about twenty times in my life, I declare that this is it. This is the last house I’m ever going to buy. The last move I’m ever going to make.

I’m not quite ready to buy my last car, last set of tires, and last tank of gas, but I’m starting to understand how my dad developed Mortality Awareness Syndrome.


  1. I remember the Cressida. To this day, they have an enthusiastic following.

    My parents bought a Toyota Avalon a couple/few years ago, and Dad (now almost 80) said it was the last car he would ever buy. (Legally blind, he had already driven the last car he'll ever drive.)

    What I thought and didn't say, was not that he is probably right... but that given how badly my mother drives, there's a decent chance he could be wrong.

    Either way, attention-grabbing thoughts indeed.

    Congratulations on the new house/move! Ibuprofen every 4 hours...

  2. I am still driving your dad's last car. Even though the AC isn't working, it is a great car and it fits me! We are proud to still have it and I think of your parents when I drive it. Congrats on the new house, too!


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