Dad Just Needs Some Time
On the first day that Terry was alone on the farm after Maureen’s death, he drove the two hours to Maryborough and bought a television. It was dark when he got home and although he hauled the box into the house, it sat unopened on the kitchen floor.
The phone woke him. Which one – he pondered as he padded down the hall to lift the receiver from its cradle on the wall. “Hey, it’s me.” she started, the youngest one. “Are you okay? I called heaps yesterday. Where were you? Dad? Dad!”
“Yeah, sorry – I can hear you. I was out. Sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you.”
“Out? Oh Dad,” her voice softened, “Were you visiting Mum?” He had no time to respond. “I’ll be back up on the weekend. Are you ok? I’m worried about you, we all are.”
Terry jumped in, he didn’t want them to be any more upset than they had to be. “I’m fine love, you don’t have to worry.” He heard her voice catch as she tried to speak then came the smoothered sobs. “I know love, I know, it’s hard. We miss her.” he said.
“I didn’t mean to start…” She couldn’t finish. He could hear her trying to compose, to steady her breath, he could imagine her tender face trying to be brave for him and then, “Now, Dad – remember you have to eat. Promise me? There’s stacks in the freezer. I’ll see you on Saturday. I’ll be up early. Dad? Love ya.”
Hey, how are u Xx
Yeah, ok. BS crap actually and worried about Dad. He got a tv!
Yup…tv…set up in the middle of the kitchen.
Really…oh Mum would have a fit!
It’s just plonked there. And NO, I was not allowed to actually turn it on…Worried 😦
Maybe it’s good. He’ll be so lonely there without Mum…can he work it out? Um…yeah all a bit odd…agree
Geez, old mate. What ever helps. TV…would never have thought??
Mum would hate it. Right in the middle of her kitchen. Not sure of anything atm :(((
Wish I was closer…does he look alright?
Yeah, ok. Have to remind him to eat tho!!
Miss Mum 😦 sucks :((((((((
Umm bit weird…went out Sunday to Mum…Dad didn’t come!!
OMG…what? Something’s wrong! Sure he is not sick???
What do you mean…what did he say…like too upset…what??
Ops…he seemed calm, but said – we like to talk at home? Then he got vague. Asked what he meant, he just gave me hugs…actually he WAS ok. Me – a mess!!
Shock, he’s keeping it together for us…I miss ya both…hate this :((
XOX 2 u 2 I’m back in a few days.
I’ll call tonight. Be well xxxxx
Worried 2…our whole life no tv…Mum adamant…first thing Dad does…so not DAD!!
Will see how it goes this week. Chat after…look after yourself PLEASE xXxXx
Finally, bless our dear kids but finally – the house to himself and the phone unplugged. Terry pulled two chairs in front of the television. He filled two tumblers with sherry – one with ice and one without. The kids wouldn’t know – he understood it would really worry them but he so needed this and they had agreed.
Their entire family life they had agreed – no television. Maureen was a teacher and she wanted their kids to be raised with fresh air, plenty of sport, books, books and more books. Holidays meant trips to galleries and museums – excursions! Just look how they all turned out – wonderful! Even if they insisted at times that they were the unluckiest, out of touch, nerdiest kids in the world – no television!
Terry settled in his seat and fumbled with the remote to find the green circle for on. What the kids did not know is that Terry and Maureen had teased each other throughout their long and deeply happy marriage – “You’ll get a television over my dead body” and then “I’ll be out to get one as soon as you’re pushing up daisies.” Of course it was marital banter and purely between the two of them and often said during the nightly sherry ritual which started after the kids left home.
When Maureen became sick she teased Terry that he was getting closer to achieving his dream. They tried to keep up the banter to stop each other from falling apart in the pure misery that the pending separation was causing each of them.
Terry was a smart man. Grounded. He also knew that for now – this highly unusual ritual of nightly sherry and teasing over the outrageous thing taking up space in the kitchen was purely survival.
So Terry talked to Maureen about what programs were available, he chided her regarding the educational content, he shared the news with her, the funny shows and he changed the channel when the world he had brought right into their home was just too ugly. It made the late night hours a little more bearable, just as she had known it would. He would remember to keep their talks private. No need to worry the kids.
This was not to go on forever – on that they had also agreed. Maureen was all about timetables and had existed in a world of planning and routines – the year quartered and ordered. He understood exactly the objectives and outcomes she had set for him.
For tonight though, here now alone but not all alone – the faint aura of light from the television and the glass of watery sherry made missing her just, only just – agonizingly possible.