" ...and then the guy at the garage said, interested in a trade in? Upgrade to the new model, this one has park-assistant sensors. And I thought, why not? But don't tell your sister yet, she will be mad soon enough. Anyway, I think this could be my last car." I try not to laugh out loud and soon we are talking about other things related to his recovery or rather, to his getting used to the fact that at age 83 your body does not recover from multiple fractures, that it is all a matter of adjusting to stiffness and aches and having to use walking aids. Which he dislikes. Instead, he usually shuffles along with two Nordic walking poles totally convinced that he could be mistaken for an athlete on his way home after a long trek.
wants to discuss explains his plans of dropping the floozie which are so cruel that I almost try and defend the woman but instead make an effort to Keep Out Of It, pretend the line is bad. "I will probably never find myself in a decent relationship," he says. Not a hope, I want to reply, try taking a look back at the ones that didn't work. But instead, we crack another joke and laugh about it.
When I put down the phone, for the briefest of moments I am overwhelmed by memory, a smell, a taste, I see flashes of my grandmother's grey silk blouse with tiny mother-of-pearl buttons, I am licking crumbs of something good off my fingers, there is a strong adult arm holding me safe on a lap, the murmurs and laughter of adult conversation around me. And then it's gone, like a sigh.
I have a box of black-and-white photographs my father took when he was a junior research scientist involved in agricultural field work. Lots of machinery and lab equipment and large weighing gadgets. And then there is this picture of a very large herd of goats, lots of white Saanen kid goats, and in the middle of it a frightened looking toddler. Could be my sister, could be me. It's too grainy and none of us can remember a thing.
Whenever I looked at that picture, I would see all these goats and this cute/uncomfortable toddler but only now have I started to imagine a lanky young guy, not even 30, putting his little daughter just so between these goats and stepping back to take the picture. Laughing like a schoolboy.