– I’m moving into the back bedroom.
– Oh good, you’ll be close enough to hear me in my death throes.
– I plan on putting on a performance.
He says, followed by a dress rehearsal.
New double pane windows, white paint and bamboo floor, I have returned to my very first bedroom, the one I shared with my big sister as a little girl.
I am no longer holed up in the basement.
– When is Mr. Fix It coming?
– Will Himself be joining us this weekend?
Lynn is the new prince of the farm. Without his help, it wouldn’t be realistic to keep Dad here. Himself chops wood, prunes trees, cuts back blackberries, rips up carpet, installs flooring, hangs picture frames and saws off branches blocking our light and view. He changes light bulbs, takes junk to the dump, cleans the scary corners and sets the burn pile on fire.
– We have to get the gutters done before Mr. Fix It comes back. We don’t want to burn him out.
Says Dad, anxious about breaking our lone workhorse.
After five years together in the city, playing music in a band and raising his children, I was nervous about what moving to the island would do for our relationship.
– Distance makes the heart grow fonder,
– Of someone else.
Perhaps. But teamwork and a shared purpose can strengthen a commitment and despite living in different towns, we feel stronger.
Independent minded with a history of steady pay cheques and landlords, this is the first time I’ve needed practical support in a partner. I watch Lynn pick up a chainsaw and spend his weekend turning my Dad’s little farm into our home.
I stop carrying boxes upstairs and go pick Dad up from church.
– Have you met my daughter?
He says, introducing me to a churchgoer.
– She’s the one going to change my diapers.
Oh, dear God.
In the past, I saw dependency as weakness. Sometimes, I still do.
Feeling needed felt like being choked. Often, it still does.
I’m at a hippie teenage retreat near Nanaimo again, learning to trust by falling backwards into someone’s arms. We’re taking turns catching each other.
Lynn goes back to the city.
– Well, hello Father.
I say to Darth Vader shuffling down the hall.
– How did you know it was me?
– Your breathing.
– I am? That’s a plus.
He sits in the chair I have set out for him.
– This is a nice room, isn’t it?
I agree with him.
– You need a picture to break up the white wall.
He says, pointing.
– A big picture of me in my long underwear stretched out on the settee.
In the field with the dogs and sheep, we look at the mountains and valley.
– I hope you girls hold onto this place for as long as you can.
He says, referring to my sister and I.
– Me too, Dad.