Weekend Blues on The Farm

Again, I find myself feeling the need to apologize for my lack of blog posts in the past few days. Why, and to whom, I don’t really know but the compulsion is there nonetheless.

This weekend it was my turn to go up and ‘take care’ of my father, who has now been living on his own for the past ten months since the death of my mother last November. I love my father; I dread going there. I suppose it would be worse if it were the house I grew up in, which is the house that features prominently in my dreams when I dream about my mother (which is often), but they moved up to this farm about forty-five minutes south of Georgian Bay to ‘retire’  almost twenty years ago – if you can call a hundred acres and seventy-five cows a form of retirement – so there is some history there as well. History mixed in with a good dose of guilt and remorse. Lots of ‘should’ statements, such as “I should have gone up more often”, “I should have made more of an effort to visit”, “I should not have found so many excuses for not going” or ‘I should not have been such a selfish, ungrateful little brat”… You know, the usual things we beat ourselves up over.

I won’t get into how wonderful my mother was. I will instead redirect you to a post I wrote on a previous blog – in what seems like a previous life – that sums it up rather succinctly. Which is a bit of a shock, considering how drugged up I was during that time.

My sister and I have decided to take turns in going to visit my father, as it is quite a drive to get to as well as exhausting once you factor in the housework and cooking for him. He was married to my mother, who did everything for him short of wiping his nose, for fifty-eight years, so at first he was a bit lost. And since he flatly refuses to let us get housekeeper for him, it falls to us to fill that role. However, on this visit, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he’d been doing rather well on his own. I’m not sure if it was just for show since he knew we would be coming, but it looked reasonably clean. Even the plants showed signs of regular watering. What was not so pleasant, on the other hand, was how thin he looked. Otherwise healthy, but thin, which leads me to wonder if that’s just my mind at work again. Thinking the worst. But he was eating well, and seemed pleased to have me replenish the stockpile of sweets I’d baked for him on my last visit if reluctant to let me do anything else like laundry or bedding. It was a family stealth mission just to get the sweeping, dusting and bathroom cleaning in.

I had been sent a number of heart-healthy recipes to prepare for him and, while I did make two dozen low fat banana muffins, I must admit that I did not use the other ones. I didn’t laden anything with artery-clogging butter and refined flour or sugar, but my reasoning is this: the man is 82. He’s recently lost his partner and best friend of almost sixty years and he continues to work on his farm, although the doctor forbade any more cows since the triple bypass so now it’s soy, wheat and barley. So I figure, if he wants to indulge his sweet tooth every now and then, he should just do it. I know he won’t overdo it – he’s been almost militant since the heart attack. I suspect it has more to do with not wanting to be stuck in hospital again than anything else. I know firsthand how stubborn and bull-headed he can get since it’s like looking in a mirror -I am my father’s daughter, a chip off the ol’ block. Except for on the inside, both physically and emotionally, where I am very much like my mother. And for that reason, I made the oatmeal raisin cookies and date loaf squares using my mother’s recipes. I didn’t tell him that, of course. But it felt like something I needed to do.

The visit went better than they have done in the past, and not only because of his apparent increase in housekeeping skills. I guess it’s true what they say, that time really does heal all. But still, there were moments that caught me offguard which I suppose won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Like last time finding the dress she wore when she left on honeymoon, labelled and packed away in the farthest reaches of one of the closets, a picture of her in her wedding dress that was tucked into the corner of the vanity mirror in the room I slept in hurt my heart a little. It’s not like I knew her then, so it shouldn’t have. But it was more just another piece of her that’s been left behind, further reminding me that she’s no longer here.

I think that’s the part I struggle with the most.

Anyways, I have a backlog of baking posts that need to be seen to this week, as well as a project I’m working on. The same project I’d alluded to in my last apology post. But I still can’t say much on that topic lest I jinx it. But once I am able to, trust me – I will let you know.