Growing up, I remember being afraid of my dad just once. His head was under the hood of the car when I honked the horn. Hitting his head on the hood, he angrily came after me. I ran. I ran around and around the car knowing I was in for a spanking. Then he laughed. Rubbing his head, he hugged me and said to NEVER honk the horn when his head was under the hood!
At twelve, I joined the after-school bowling club. My dad, an avid bowler, thought that was great. Sadly, no one wanted me on their team. Daddy simply said, “I’ll be on your team, Kris.” I don’t know how he managed to leave work early on Tuesday afternoons, but we finished in first place.
The next year, we bowled on a mixed-doubles team at Lowry Field. Thursday nights, he introduced me to his friends, bought me 7-Up and taught me to turn my wrist so the ball would curve as it rolled down to the headpin. We came in dead last.
Soon, I felt entirely too old to bowl with daddy. Interested in other things, and younger guys, I got older. So did my dad.
Eventually, his memory began to slip. At first he forgot little things, like the name of the street where he lived or which exit to take to get to the airport. Then it was bigger things, like not to pay a con man $2,500 cash before they cut the old branches out of your apple tree. His blue eyes turned oddly grey and the twinkle began to fade.
It was Alzheimer’s. He took it with grace.
“I’m doin’ the best I can with what I’ve got,” he’d often say.
The last day I spent with daddy, he bowled with his senior’s league. I marveled that anyone could throw so many strikes with his shoes on the wrong feet.
“I’m doin’ the best I can with what I’ve got,” he said.
He died that night. I miss him terribly, but am relieved to see him released from the relentless cruelty of Alzheimer’s.
Someone asked me for my favorite quote this year. I gave them my dad’s last words:
“I’m doin’ the best I can with what I’ve got.”— Bill Haub