Yesterday was Father’s Day and like many fortunate people who have parents who are not only still living but living nearby we spent the afternoon with Dick’s dad CR.
We brought treats and sat and talked. Later we struggled to get him into clean, fresh clothing. CR has lost the ability to stand for even a few seconds. He also keeps his room very warm, with more heat making its way through the large window looking out on the courtyard garden (it reached the 90s yesterday). Dick and I are fairly skilled at these maneuvers, but by the time I’d retied the last shoelace I was covered in sweat and urine.
And I faced the sad realization that I could no longer help CR do any of his personal care tasks—he’s failing more and more. Only two months ago he could stand long enough with the walker that I could completely change him with no real exertion in 20 minutes or less. Not a milestone you like to pass on Father’s day.
But first we chatted, and for me, when Dick is present, that means I sketch. CR knows that. Typically he poses.
Yesterday either because he didn’t like our answers to his questions about moving (see Note 1 below) or because he didn’t like the new eyeglasses leash I purchased for him (see Note 2 below) he didn’t pose with his usual rock solid patience. He sat at an angle to his son and alternately held the pose shown in my sketch, or turned to face the window and present a profile (which he knows I rarely paint).
I’m patient. I picked a view and added bits to it every time he turned back to see Dick.
And all the while I’m thinking, “Dick looks exactly like CR.”
Everyone says this.
If you know Dick and CR then at some point in your life you have said, “Dick looks exactly like CR.”
I noticed this the first time I met CR—he drove out to help Dick with a car problem. I’ve been noticing it ever since.
Yes there are slight differences—CR’s face is more oval and Dick inherited the long face of the McKennys. Dick’s upper lip bows differently than CR’s, but the thinness and surrounding structure from nose to chin is exactly the same. His nose rounds like his father’s but has a small dimple at the bottom edge.
Dick’s inner ear structure is different, and he does have eyes that are more frosty, electric blue than his father’s blue eyes.
Otherwise Dick could be mistaken for a clone.
Here’s the funny thing. Dick can look at the sketch above and recognize that I have nailed the likeness of his dad. But at the same time he cannot see how it looks like him. He even laughed and said, “The receptionist said I look more like him today than ever.” (The only explanation I can think of for her new perception is that Dick has been swimming outside and his blond hair is bleaching to white. CR has a stunning crown of white hair. So it’s that and of course the fact that Dick is aging.)
I puzzle over this a lot. He seems to grudgingly understand why our friends think he looks like the lead character in “Up.” (Although everyone says he’s taller.) But he can’t see this real-life resemblance.
It haunts me every day. I visit CR and am reminded that this is how Dick will age. Dick never smoked so he won’t have the resultant health issues that his father has been facing, but this is the way the flesh will thin and hang; this is the way the skull will emerge.
Well if I’m still around then (he keeps telling me he’ll outlive me), I’ll sketch him and make my point.
Or maybe I’ll just cover up the dates in my journals and show him sketches of his dad.
I’ve never lied to Dick, but hey, if I live that long all bets are off.
- He alternately believes he’s in Portland [where he spent his early life], needs to get back to Portland, Minneapolis, or his independent living apartment in another wing of his building.
- He now has a bright red cord that attaches to the two ear stems of his glasses. He can hang his glasses around his neck instead of putting them down and losing them. (He’s too blind to see them.) So far it’s working. Fingers crossed. He had the last pair of glasses less than ten days!