Yep. I said the saga continues!
Just about one year ago the family circled the wagons to get Elmer, my 90 year old father-in-law, transported from his winter fishing-camp (Travel trailer parked in a campground on the Texas golf coast) back up to his daughter Dale's house in Missouri. It was quite the logistical operation but we all, even Elmer, survived, though at the time he was pretty convinced he was dying, (For real this time! Honest!) and frankly he looked it.
But that was hardly the first time he's slid down that chute greased with a lifetime of smoking, chicken-fried steaks, biscuits and gravy, and physical injuries brought on by general clumsiness. So none of us were too surprised when he recovered, once again. (Well - OK, maybe some of us were a bit surprised. I mean even his own doctor can't figure out how come the man is still alive! A good five years ago, prior to one of the road-trips to get him from Missouri to Texas for the winter fishing season, his daughter pulled Elmer's doctor aside and asked what they should do if Elmer croaked in the car on the way down. "Oh no!" he said, "You don't want to go through all the paperwork and hassles if he dies out of state, so just prop him up in the back seat with a blanket, head straight back here, and call me when you get close.")
But once again, from the very jam of death's door, Elmer rallied and we were, depending on which of us you ask, mildly to moderately surprised.
Though we certainly have been shocked by some of the changes that he's implemented, all on his own, in the months since!
- First off he actually willingly handed over his car-keys and traded his driver's license in for a state ID. Yep, no kicking and screaming. No having to hide the keys and imply he has just lost his mind, and with it them, somewhere. No removing the rotor in a midnight operation worthy of James Bond, then commiserating with him about the unreliability of old cars. After he got back to Missouri he never once tried to sneak out and drive anywhere, even though Bass Pro (Which is sort of, along with Academy, his personal version of church.) is only a few miles from where he's living now. He just decided he likes being chauffeured around instead. (Did you hear the collective sigh of relief from all of us? I'm pretty sure it registered on a few of the USGS seismographs.)
- Elmer, who claims he started smoking when he was 5, has quit! At first he switched over to an e-cig but he had a habit of puffing so hard on the damn trying to make as much 'smoke' hang around his head as he could with a cigarette, that Dale was afraid it was going to explode and relegated him to e-puffing outside. (Dale's pretty particular about who blows up her house.) Well winter came along with its single-digit temps and blowing snow and that was the end of the e-cig too.
- Elmer grew up in the generation that went to school, unwillingly, through the 8th grade then headed out into the real world to get on with life. For him reading was, except maybe for the manual for his new fishing reel, an odiferous evil. The one good thing about going mostly blind was that no one expected him to perform this monkey-trick anymore. But suddenly he discovered the local library's audio-books program and has turned into an addict. Hovering around the mailbox waiting for them to send him the next set of word-smithed CD's. He actually starts Jonesing when he gets down to the last disk in the current book and the next Mary Higgins Clark hasn't shown up in the mailbox yet!
But the latest curve-ball thrown by that old man (OK, perhaps feebly dribbled across the floor since his throwing arm - well - isn't anymore.) was him calling us the other day and asking if it would be alright to give the travel-trailer away, as is, where is!
I nearly fell over!
He loves that travel-trailer. In his entire life, which, you'll have to agree, is pretty damn long, that Keystone Hornet is the only place he's ever lived on his own. The only place that was all his, no sharezees, just his to clean, or trash, all by himself. So our plan, even though there was clearly no way he could ever move back into it again, was to just leave it there behind Ronny's barn until he was gone so Elmer could at least continue to dream of life in that trailer.
We weren't looking forward to the hassle of disposing of it later, but for now it brightened Elmer's day once in a while by just being there, or so we thought.
But surprised or not, before my sweaty palm-print had dried on the phone, I was in the safe, pulling out the title, signing it, (Fortunately, when we bought the trailer for Elmer back in 2007 we put it in our names, not his, figuring on a future situation just like this.) and stuffing it in an envelope to send to the new owner like right now! (Though The Wife did talk me out of making a special trip to town just for that.)
Yippee! There's 27 feet of monkey off our backs!
In the mean-time Elmer continues to roll, stutter, glitch, and plod on even though we have been expecting "the phone call" for quite some time now.
(Unfortunately, when "the phone call" did come back in January it was because Dale's son had been murdered. He was trying to do the right thing by protecting a woman in a domestic-violence situation, but that only tempers the shock and pain only so much.)