When I learned I’d have to undergo surgery — and that home care would be mandatory — my dad raised his hand so fast, I thought he’d need an operation as well. Two years ago, when I had my right shoulder rebuilt, he came about two months into my recovery to do all the things that I hadn’t planned for, and we had a good time. Except when he was driving.
This time, he wanted to be the starter, not the closer. So he booked a ticket for 10 days, and I began planning for six months of not being able to shop for large items, not being able to drive on the highway (at least comfortably) and not being able to do a host of things that hadn’t occurred to me the last time around.
And I tried to plan for my dad’s visit. For my mom, or my sister, or my best friend, I would have stacked up the appropriate movie and television DVDs and we would be set. (For the first week or so, leaving the house is nearly intolerable.) For my dad, that wouldn’t work. I knew exactly what he would want to watch, exactly how much of it I could stand, and exactly how to make sure both of us were happy: sports.
Thank God for sports. I wanted the surgery to happen before the U.S. Open because my dad would be here for Father’s Day — and because he’d be here for four long days of television coverage from San Francisco. I’m lucky that my surgeon understood and made it work. My dad and I both root for Tiger Woods; he likes Phil Mickelson more than me; I’m a sucker for the Irish contingent. Neither of us likes Johnny Miller.
I had hoped the NBA Finals would go seven games, but it fell two short. We rooted for the same team (the Thunder), and we had a fallback plan in case they lost (KU’s Mario Chalmers gets a ring!), so there was no dissension. And if I drifted off on a Percoset cloud, I knew my dad was all set.
And then there were the Nats. I thought my dad would get interested in them because, let’s face it, they’re interesting. And sure enough, they didn’t disappoint. He got to see Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez pitch, and he was a good luck charm for Bryce Harper, whose average climbed to a season-high .307 while my dad was in town. He’s not going to drop his Kansas City Royals, but I think if the Nats are in the playoffs, he’ll root for them.
Sports is always safer than regular TV. One thing my dad won’t put up with is sex on TV, and by sex I mean anything other than The Duke giving a gal (preferably Maureen O’Hara) a hearty buss before going off to shoot someone. Whenever anything more than that happens, he’ll say, “We’ve had about enough of that,” and — boom! — there goes the channel. It’s a good thing I grew up in the country, or I might still think babies came from John Wayne’s saddlebags.
He also recently discovered “NCIS” reruns on USA. He completely disregards the fact that there are new episodes of this show; he wants to watch only the reruns. I guess Leroy Jethro Gibbs is perhaps the John Wayne of the 21st century. Because I can tolerate that show much more easily than, say, “Las Vegas” — seriously, he watches “Las Vegas”? — I’m all in favor of the “NCIS” trend. I knew watching the first two seasons of “Downtown Abbey” on DVD was too much to hope; NCIS was a decent compromise between that and “Matlock.”
Mostly, I’m grateful that my dad can spend 10 days cooped up in my house, and we can find things to talk about. Someday, I hope he’ll come when my arms will move independently of my body, and we can go hit a bucket of balls. But there will come a day when it will be my turn to be the caregiver, and when it comes, I hope I raise my hand as fast as my dad did. (I hope I’m able to raise my hand at all.) I think I will. As long as we have sports to share, we’ll do just fine.