Courage at Twilight: Point and Fall

Mom and I left Dad at the kitchen table half-dressed, his suspenders dragging to the floor, to have his breakfast of Quaker granola (hardly sugar free, but he doesn’t care anymore) and to finish buttoning his white Sunday shirt. Always a suit and tie man, he has given up on ties, or rather on his shoulders, which he cannot raise to fold down his shirt collar, and on the collar button that cannot find the button hole under command of his trembling fingers.  We found him in pretty much the same state an hour later after choir practice, with ten minutes to get him ready for church.  “I’m slow, aren’t I?” he said to me with a grin.  “I know it.  I’m like a tortoise.”  Mom and I exhaled exasperated sighs.  “I’m slow but I’m steady.”  And that he is.  Steady in his love and acceptance and absence of judgment and discerning intellect and in his love of chocolate chips.  I rushed outside to sweep the snow off the faithful Suburban, to shovel and salt the driveway, and to turn the car on and turn up the heat setting and the fan, all in time for Mom and Dad to hop in, or rather to creep up and in.  The church meetinghouse is just around the corner, but we insist on seatbelts, even though Dad’s seatbelt clasp cannot find its latch for his stiffened hands and shoulders and back, and in frustration he let out an “Oh, for cripes’ sake!” which I have learned is a euphemism for “Oh, for Christ’s sake,” which I will not tell Dad, for he loves and reveres Jesus Christ, his Redeemer, his Savior, and has spent his life in Christ’s service, and he would never in a century take his dear Lord’s name in vain.  I stood by his car door, knowing not to shut the door for him, but merely close it to the mid-point so he could reach out and shut it himself.  In the men’s priesthood class after sacrament services, an ancient welcoming sympathetic man gestured Dad to a chair next to him.  I could tell that the chair looked a long way down as Dad turned to point his backside to the chair and joked to his friend, “Point and fall, Brother, point and fall.”  Having pointed, he allowed himself to fall into place, where he enjoyed the group’s discussion about exercising our particles of faith.

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