Sep 2011 26

My dad is 83. We’ve had a rocky relationship since I’ve been 10 years old. I suspect I’m not alone, hence starting Project Vic, a video series which chronicles my attempts to mediate and repair my relationship with my dad.

Vic has agreed to be a guest blogger today.  He doesn’t do a lot of media appearances anymore. Back in the day, as the Director of the Dental Division at the Indiana State Board of Health, he’d go on TV and tell kids not to eat frosted Pop Tarts and Count Chocula cereal (and then bring that stuff home to us). But it’s been a long time since he was on camera.

So I try to be patient.

I remember my mother getting impatient with old people in the grocery line, fumbling for their coupons or check book.

I try to remember not to be so impatient, now that she’s gone.  As her cancer progressed, one of her favorite things to do was to go to the Kroger grocery store by the house and go grocery shopping.  When Kroger had a big party in the parking lot, she wanted to go every day. I happened to be visiting and so I went with her every day, too. I tried to get her to try the Jaegermeister the rep was sampling on tap, but she knew me too well and took a pass.

She could barely walk, and leaned on the grocery cart for support. She wasn’t very fast. She didn’t have her coupons or money ready.  And it didn’t matter. She was having fun, and that’s what counted. It wasn’t my definition of fun, but if I could take care of her in this little tiny way by helping her through the grocery store, then that was what we’d do.

The day she died, my dad and I sat in stunned silence for awhile, and then helped the funeral home remove her body from the house.  We sat in the dark for awhile, and then finally decided we should go to the MCL cafeteria for dinner.  We’ve eaten at MCL as a family ever since I can remember. In the 60’s there was a cute woman with blonde flip hair. I must’ve been about 5 and I said loudly, “When I grow up I want my hair to look exactly like that lady’s!”  Hey, at least I was saying something nice!

So as we sat at the MCL I looked at all the old people. MCL is a pretty forgiving place, so there are lots of people with babies and old folks.  I realized that other people got to have their old people with them at MCL, but that my family didn’t get to anymore.

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post

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