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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ascots, The Newest Fashion Accessory

My father in law is recovering from his open heart surgery better than anyone could have hoped. He even turned down the good drugs the day after his surgery. That generation is strange with it's inability to accept narcotics with pleasure. Rob walked through the corridor of the intensive care unit seeing room after room of people, mostly men, mostly older, in obvious discomfort. He was afraid of the condition in which he would find his father. His worry was for nothing. Lou was sitting up straight in his bed, hands behind his head, watching tv.

I think he was probably complaining about something.

We're a lot alike in that regard, him and I.

Neither one of us is easy to live with, and that was never more apparent than when we lived at my inlaws house for four months while we we were trying to buy our first house. I was pregnant with my second child and had terrible morning sickness (a misnomer for all day long sickness), it was a very hot summer, and the smell of food cooking would send me running to the bathroom.

My father in law wakes up very early in the morning. Very early as in 3:00 am, closer to the time I go to bed for the night than when I wake up. After he drinks his very weak coffee made from a combination of recycled coffee grounds and fresh ones, he begins to make dinner. Yes, dinner for that night. When I would wake up at a perfectly respectable hour like 8:00 am, there would be my dinner sitting on the counter already cold, wrapped in plastic wrap, staring at me while I ate my corn flakes.

It happened that this particular summer my brother in law's garden had a rather prolific crop of zucchini. I made the error of telling my father in law how delicious the zucchini was the first time he prepared it.

From that day on,for four long months, I woke up every day to find cooked zucchini on the counter. I begged my brother in law to just go out to the garden and stomp on the plants, to stop the never ending zucchini hell in which I was trapped. It has been ten years and I have not eaten zucchini since. Just writing this makes my mouth water and causes me to dry heave.

It is entirely possible that he was trying to drive us out of his house as quickly as possibly with the never ending zucchini cooking. In the end, he gave us several thousand dollars we needed towards our down payment to hurry things along.


Recently the town in which my inlaws live, built a new huge senior center. My father in law was telling Rob about it, and how big it was, and all the activities that would be going on there. After he was done, Rob said that it sounded like fun and asked when he was going to head over there.

My father in law looked incredulously at Rob and emphatically stated, "I'm not going there. It's full of OLD people!"

We laughed at this, because when you are 80 years old, I think you can safely call yourself old. There really aren't too many people older than you. But he won't go. He doesn't want to hang out with old people who have nothing better to do than to talk about how they are falling apart bit by bit, unlike himself. Come to think of it I already do that, maybe I should go and play pinnacle with the geriatric set. It would have to be better than Candyland with the preschool set.

My father in law has recently developed a fondness for ascots, and wears them everyday. He developed this penchant for them after he had his cataract surgery and could see his reflection clearly for the first time in 25 odd years. I imagine that it would be shocking to wake up one day and suddenly see yourself 25 years older. He looked in the mirror for the first time after his surgery and screamed, "When did I get wrinkles?!? What happened to my neck?!?"

I asked my mother in law what she said and she told me she was too busy running away to hide so that he didn't get a good look at her. So now he just wears his ascots to the grocery store and fancies himself quite the ladies man.

He is an eccentric, crazy, old kook. And yes, I say that with love. If I don't have a mildly offensive nickname for you, it means I don't like you, and therefore have a really offensive nickname that I dare not utter in your presence.


The day after his open heart surgery, Lou was talking with Rob's mother on the phone while one of the nurses tried in vain to take some blood. She kept poking and poking him with the needle and was having trouble getting any blood. My father in law got annoyed and said on the phone, "I have to go. This nurse thinks I need a transfusion, she can't get any of my blood." Then he hung up, setting into motion a series of events.

My mother in law heard transfusion and panicked.
She called her daughter, Rob's sister, who panicked even more.
Rob's sister called the doctor, who was completely baffled.
The doctor called the nurses, who were confused.
Except for one nurse, who vaguely remembered the conversation.
She went to his room and reprimanded him like a child, because "you don't joke about such things when you are old, in the hospital, and have just had major surgery."

He told her that no one has a sense of humor. Because clearly this is the perfect time to make such a joke... when else would it be funny?

Rob and I agree. We are the only people, aside from him, who found it remotely funny.

Oh and when Rob visited him in the hospital, his father had a dozen eggs for Rob to bring home. Why? Well doesn't every occasion call for giving your youngest son some random food item that was on sale the previous week, or month, or even a year ago, in the case of the frozen hostess cupcakes or the mini snickers bars in the Halloween themed wrapper we get in August. It is a tradition that we fully intend to pass on. So Miles, be forewarned.

I am so thankful that crazy old kook is doing well. I'm thinking of buying him an ascot in one of these fabrics. Embrace the crazy, I say.

Given this man's personality, it wouldn't surprise me if he out lived the lot of us.


Blogger Darren said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

Okay, let me try this again, but this time with all the words I wanted to use:

Great. So this means that when I'm 80 people still won't have caught on that I'm being sarcastic?

What do you think the minimum age is for ascot wearing? Please say it's at least 29 because I so, so want to be classy.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Jody said...

Oh, he sounds like so much fun! You guys are lucky to have him in your life.

I say go for it with the animal print ascots!

Glad he is doing so great.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Bernadette said...

You honor him with this humorous tribute! Perhaps he would enjoy reading Gene's blog at

12:40 PM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Please please please can we have a picture of him in an ascot? I'll send presents! Or chocolate, how about chocolate?

1:00 PM  
Blogger Sleeping Mommy said...

He sounds like a lot of fun. And alot like my grandpa.

And now I'm wondering what your mildly offensive nickname for me would be...or perhaps it would be a really offensive one behind my back? ;)

1:42 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

29 sounds just about perfect to begin your ascot wearing.

My fil has never even laid hands on a computer

sleeping mommy, I was only talking about people I know in real life. You'll always be sleeping mommy to me ;-)

halloweenlover, I'll have to take a photo next time I see him, LOL.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

Why do some people get all the good fathers-in-law? (no offense, Darren).

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an amazing telling/sharing of your fil - lovingly written!
W.O.W. (he sounds charming ;-))


5:04 PM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

lol he sounds like my grandpa who will not go to an a old home

7:34 PM  
Blogger Carmen said...

Hey! How did my father in law get over there???

Chris, I want a nickname BAD!

Or maybe a bad nickname.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

He sounds like quite a man! I think this tribute is lovely and you really should get him a fun ascot to add to his collection!

7:52 AM  
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