ralph robert moore
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Copyright © 1999 by Ralph Robert Moore.
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i told him i love him
march 27, 1999
My father visited us last week, flying out from Greenwich. He's 78 now. It's the first time we've seen each other in nearly a decade.
The last time he visited, in 1990, my mother was still alive. We got the call they had settled into their hotel room. Riding up in the elevator, the little circular lights in the ceiling putting haloes on our hair, Mary and I kissed as the doors parted, and walked down the carpeted hotel hallway holding hands.
It was the first time I had really seen the effect age had had on them, to the extent where it took a moment to recognize them, my father grinning by the TV, my mother sitting with her purse on the side of the bed, my startled mind hoping through the hugs and opening jokes my face didn't show how surprised I was at how small they had gotten, how much frailer.
Ten years later, my dad looked younger and more robust, his hair honest now, no longer dyed black; small, dirty-yellow cataracts on the whites of his eyes that will eventually have to be excised before they spread over the pupils.
I told him I love him.
He brought with him his friend of the past few years, Kay, a cheerful, energetic woman of 80. They met at the senior center in Greenwich when a rain forced him inside. She told me how he had continued going each week to the nursing home where my mother, afflicted with Alzheimer's, lived, pushing his hands under her body on the bed each time to make sure the linens were kept clean.
While they were here, we loaded into their rental car each day and took in the sights of Dallas, visiting the Zoo; the aquarium in the West End, where a glass tunnel leads you through an immense water tank, large sting rays floating on their flat pale bellies over your head, mouths opening and closing; Ripley's Wax Museum and Believe It Or Not; and the Sixth Floor Exhibit, a restoration of the floor in the book repository where, amid wooden shipping crates preserved in place, Oswald opened a window and leveled a rifle. A sign on the front door of the exhibit states, as belatedly as so much else in life, that firearms are not allowed inside.