My father's day is passing.
The whole family (most of it, anyway) went to my brother's house for Father's Day. I rode with Mom and Dad. To be accurate, I rode for 30 minutes of the 3 hour drive. It quickly became apparent that Dad should not drive, so I chauffeured the rest of the way.
To me, it was no problem. I was happy to drive. For Dad, it was difficult—another marker of the end of the era when he was the strongest, most capable member of our family, the rock on which we all stood.
Dad was once 6'4". He now stands less than 6 feet. He once could eat anything and everything he wanted without gaining a pound. He now eats a bowl of oatmeal without sugar for breakfast, Slimfast for lunch, and a small dinner. He once carried concrete blocks like children's toys. Now he struggles to carry himself.
Far more important than those things, though, is the loss of the feeling we all have had, all our lives together this time on the spinning blue marble, that Dad could hold up the sky. He could build anything, fix anything, make it all better somehow. Now he often says, "I used to know how to do that...."
Watching his body fail him is one of the harder things I've done in a life that's included plenty of challenges (as well as more than my share of joy).
When he laments some new loss, I often tell him he's done for us all our lives and now it's our privilege to do for him. The gallant knight in him, the one whose armor is rusting, the one whose lance is no longer sharp--that knight replies, "But I'm supposed to do it."
The knight on the white horse gets a lot of glory, but that glory comes at a terrible price. The Piper has enormous patience and a very long memory. The day has come to pay him.