Albert and Bill, two elderly residents at the Fairfax Nursing Center, don't have a lot in common.
Albert likes cigars. Bill, on the other hand, smokes Winston Lights. Albert can't hear too well and Bill has trouble talking. Albert likes to tease the young nurses. Bill is too shy.
Still, there's a special bond between the two: Albert, 102, and Bill, 73, are father and son.
"I was getting Papa (Albert) up one morning," said fourth floor nurse Pat Sterling. "And Bill, who was in the room, put his hand on Albert's cheek and he had the biggest smile on his face."
Just then, Albert Tew, the nursing home's oldest resident, was coming down the corridor in his wheelchair. Pushing the chair was his son Bill.
Yesterday was the nursing center's annual Father's Day Cookout and Tews were the center of attention.
The Tews have lived together for nearly 70 years, first in Southeast Washington, and later in Hillcrest Heights, Md. Now they share adjacent rooms on the fourth floor of this suburban Virginia nursing home.
Several months ago, Bill Tew decided to move into his father's room. That arrangement, not surprisingly, lasted only one day.
"He (Bill) wanted to be by the window," said floor coordinator Sharon Henderson.
Yesterday, while a blue grass group played "Mountain Dew" in the gazebo behind the pond, Albert Tew tapped his bony fingers in time on the patio table.
"Do you like the near bear?" a nurse's aide asked.
"I don't like it much," Albert replied.
"He likes rum," said his granddaughter, Joan Parsons. "He learned to drink that in Cuba."
In 1898, Albert Tew enlisted in the Army, eager to fight in the Spanish-American War. But the armistice was signed before young Albert finished his training so he wound up in Cuba, laying telephone lines from Sancti Spiritus to Santiago.
Tew came back to Washington, married his sweetheart Mamie, and worked as a mechanical draftsman at the Bureau of Engraving.
His son Bill, who served as a tank commander under Gen. George Patton during World War II, never married. He contracted Parkinson's disease and had to retire from his job as a punch press operator in Alexandria.
Bill's sister Gertrude showed up yesterday with a box of chocolates for her father. But it was Bill who seemed more interested in the candy.
"There's not much of a relationship between him and Pop," observed Gertrude. "Pop's a real mixer. The nurses tease him, he teases them. Bill was always a loner. He went his own way."
Still, one nurse's aide recalls a tender moment between the father and son. "Albert was sitting in his wheelchair by the dining room one day," said Phyllis Fisher. "Bill was walking to his room."
Fisher, new on the floor, asked the elder Tew who the other man was. Albert Tew replied, "That's my son." She turned to Bill and asked who the man in the wheelchair was. "That's my Dad," he told her.
Fisher, touched by the exchange, exhorted the two men to show some affection. "They hugged each other," she said yesterday, smiling. "It was real cute."