My Dad came to visit.
He is 73 and lives in Robe.
He wasnt sure if he was coming. This inability to commit to the trip made my life a bit fraught.
Do I be lazy and not bother to cater for him, or do I just take the bull by the horns and get organised regardless?
I took the lazy option. Naturally.
On Wednesday afternoon I received a text message, ‘Rach Im 240kms from Port Augusta!’
I went cold.
I needed to do THINGS…I didnt know what but I knew there were THINGS people did and people do when parents are arriving.
I was at work! It was 1:45pm. He would be with me in 2 hours. Id still be at work! And I needed to do THINGS!
How was he going to find me? Ive moved house since his last visit?
Where was I going to hide 4 dogs? How could I make him NOT notice 4 dogs?
I knew immediately I had to leave work. So I did. I just walked out. I didnt even realise I was gone, until I WAS gone.
At home I didnt know what THINGS to do.
I wandered around with a feeling of dread rising, watching the clock. Dad is a lead foot and maybe he would be here in record time. Panic!
Do I text him with directions? No I might cause him to crash.
Do I ring him? No he might get arrested.
How on earth is he going to find me?
I called him. Being arrested was a better option – the other being possible death.
We arranged to meet at a local pub. I thought that with a few drinks under his belt he might not notice that I hadnt done the THINGS that I couldnt think of to do.
If I kept him there til dark, he may not notice the dogs.
And the plan happened. All was great.
Id locked the dogs out the back for our return. Brilliant.
We got home, in the dark and the dogs were out. Everything was terrific.
Dad went to bed. Success! He was happy and I was beginning to feel less fraught.
Id made a serious error. I didnt know at the time. I was feeling so smug that my plans had gone so successfully.
I didnt introduce him to the dogs. They didnt know HE was there! It didnt matter about him knowing THEY were there nearly as much as it mattered about them knowing DAD WAS IN THE HOUSE!
People get up in the night, dont they? People pee in the night? Dad pees in the night!!
He got up. Just to pee. Not to rob us or do bad things. Just to pee.
The dogs didnt know that!!
16 Legs leapt at full speed from my bedroom, barking at the top of their lungs.
Bailed UP! My 73 year old father was bailed UP!
How did I not know this would happen?
Dad is a country fella. His reaction to dogs behaving like this is to shoot them!
I didnt notice him bringing a gun into the house, so I felt sure they would survive the night.
I had to go to work in the morning. Early. What would happen then?
No more sleep for me that night.
I had THINGS to do. I didnt know what THINGS, but I knew I must have some THINGS.
I went to work in the morning.
All was good or so I thought.
Dad got lost.
So what do you do when you know only one place in a town? You go back there.
Dad went back to the pub where we had met the night before.
I got a phone call:
“Hello Rachel, this is Deb from Ian’s Western and we have your father here!”
GOD ALMIGHTY! I nearly passed out. I was teaching a class in the ranges, 40 minutes away. WHY was dad in a pub in the morning and what had he done for them to ring me??
“Hello Deb, go on…”
“He is lost and thought we might know where you live.”
Good Lord…Dad thinks the pub knows where I live!!
“I explained to him that we didnt know your address and that we didnt know your phone number either.” (He had left his phone at my house, hence the need to return to place he couldnt find. HOME!)
Got that sorted.
I arrived home from work late. No Dad.
On the front verandah was a box with a dozen bottles of wine, a jar of coffee and a yoyo.
YES, that was a THING I didnt do – buy coffee (and apparently buy a yoyo)
*I still dont know the yoyo story.
Didnt Dad know this is Port Augusta and the chances of anything remaining on your front verandah for more than 10 minutes before being flogged, is slim? Mighty slim!
So where was he? I didnt know. But he turned up with directions on a piece of paper firmly clutched in his hand.
Conversation went like this:
Havent you got a heater, it’s a bit breezy and feeling close to minus 10.
No Dad, not one that will warm the house now.
He got a coat and we sat in the kitchen.
Hey Rach, turn the TV on for me. Id love to watch the news.
Um no you dont Dad. I wouldnt sit in the living room if I were you.
Come on Rach, warmer in there.
Um dogs use the sofas Dad, not people AND I dont know how to work the TV.
I could feel the worry creeping back. I should have done THINGS about tonight.
Have you got a wireless you know how to work?
(But we didnt end up turning the stereo on before he got side tracked)
Great back yard Rach. Brilliant view, if you dont look at the dog shit…
Dad Ive been away for 3 weeks and Ive been at work since I got back.
Dont worry Darl, Im not having a go…it’s terrific, really!
Phew, have you seen my veggies?
I took him out for a viewing.
After a few more drinks he asked about dinner!
Another THING I didnt think about!
FOOD! Of course we had to eat…how did I NOT think about FOOD?
Pizza. He likes pizza. We ordered a pizza.
He wanted a coffee. Yes another THING, just another bloody THING. That’s why he bought the jar. I didnt have any. Of course! It was a THING.
Bed time came and all fell silent in the house where THINGS hadnt been thought of…
Dad had said nice things about me and we had had a happy night. A freezing cold night but that didnt matter.
The next morning Dad continued his trip up north. He had coffee and the dogs didnt eat him at pee time – his visit was a success. A screaming success.
Two days with his eldest daughter and he survived.
What a great feeling to have your Dad leave your house ALIVE.
For me I had a doubly good feeling. I now know what THINGS to do if I ever need to do THINGS again! Parents always teach you something…