Well, today’s the day. I write this while on a plane to France, and as a child furiously kicks the back of my seat. I’m both excited and nervous. The main reason for my anxiety is that my father’s travel agent made a mistake and booked his flight so that he arrived in Paris 26 hours before I’m scheduled to. That wouldn’t be as much of a problem, but my dad is now of an age, and he forgets things (not to mention that he hasn’t been abroad since 1991 when we went to Mexico and Belize together. Things have changed a bit since then.)
A little background information might be useful. I visited Paris last year in the spring, and the trip was a whirlwind. I didn’t feel that I had nearly enough time to see what I’d hoped to, and so I booked another trip less than a year after. This time, I’d be traveling in the fall, and this time, I’d be completely alone. Of course, that’s no longer the case because my father decided to join me. He is planning the retirement trip of his bucket-list dreams. He’ll be in Europe for five weeks after I’ve gone back home, and he’s going to have a blast. However, I’d hoped to be there to initiate him into European life. My dad needs a few lessons for things – like using the Metro, the Euro, confirming airline reservations online, checking into a hotel by showing an email, and a translator wouldn’t hurt, either!
In the last month, I’ve seen my dad two or three times a week, and without a word of a lie, he’s lost, misplaced, or completely forgotten something I’d said every time. He has lost his hearing aid (just one,) important paperwork, iPod charger, money, iPod case, jacket, keys, cell phone, and travel itinerary in that brief time. He’s pretty lackadaisical when it comes to time (you have to be at the airport three hours before your flight,) following rules (no liquids!), bringing copies of documents (I kept his passport in my safe hands until yesterday,) putting things down in weird places (“Have you seen my glasses?”), having a European outlet converter (he doesn’t,) simply owning an iPod charger (“It’s charged up pretty good so I should be fine,”) taking note of my cell phone number (“I don’t think I’ll need my phone over there,”)
I made him buy an iPod (a.k.a. an iPhone without the possibility of roaming charges) and we’ve had lessons several nights over the past couple of weeks. I think he almost gets it, but then he’ll get trapped in a window, and has no idea how to get “home” again. I asked him (from the kitchen) to take a selfie and send it to me. What I received was a blurry picture with my name written over it. I taught him how to use the voice dictation, and the gems that emerged from that were tear-inducing. However, we always had a connection to my home’s WiFi, and I fear that I was never able to show him how to get onto free public WiFi. As a result, he is now completely AWOL God-knows-where.
I’ve sent my almost 70-year-old father to the wolves. I’m shitting myself. I love him dearly, and I don’t mean to make him sound like a fool, but he’s from another era. Right now, he might as well be on another planet. I imagine this is what it feels like to send your kindergartner to school on the first day of school. On foot. Carrying a lot of cash. With a two kilometer walk. And two crosswalks. In the rain. In 1980.
Dear God, please protect my aging father who thinks my facebook wall is a chat window. 🙏🏻