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My father.

I don't know how he knows, but he does. He can't see to the end of the room, but whenever I'm doing any kind of work in the house, somehow he knows and a few seconds later he's situated himself right in the middle of it. It could be something as simple as my walking into the kitchen early in the wee morning hours to fix my wife a cup of coffee. I won't even turn on the light, but I'll see the light go on in the little in-law house in the front of our property. Then I'll see him walk out his door toward the main house. Sometimes I'm able to sneak back upstairs with our coffee before he makes it into the house, but sometimes...

"Where's my coffee?" my wife will ask when I walk back into our bedroom empty-handed.

"Um... ah... well..." I'll begin to explain.

"Your father?"

"Yeah."

For the last three days I've been trying to dust-mop and buff the oak floor downstairs. As usual, no sooner do I start to dust the floor, than he walks into the kitchen for his tea. And then, once he has his tea-and also proving in the process that he doesn't need my wife to make it for him-he sits himself in his favorite chair in the den to watch the TV. Sometimes he even turns it on. These last few days it's been on, and that meant I couldn't use the buffer. It makes too much noise.

Today, I finally got lucky and was able to finish dusting the floor. No dad. He was still in his little house. I quickly grabbed the buffer. Just as I was about to turn it on, guess who walked in? My father. Only, there I was with the buffer, standing between him and his favorite chair.

"Can't he see I'm busy in here?" I thought to myself.

So I pretended not to see him, and began fiddling with the buffer, giving him time to leave. Instead, he stood there looking at me fiddling with this and fussing with that. From the corner of my eye, I could see he was trying to figure out his next course of action. He stood there, not saying anything. No "Hi, how are you?" No "Good morning." No "You're in my way."

Smacking his lips, he attempted to let me know he was there. Smack, smack, smack! "Ahhhh, well..." Big sigh, then smack, smack, smack some more. He finally came up with a plan. Instead of coming straight in through the kitchen, he detoured down the hall and into the den.

"Oh, my..." he said to nobody in particular, plopping himself down in front of the TV. For some reason known only to him, he didn't bother to turn it on. He just sat there, watching a black screen. If she's around, my wife will usually turn it on for him, but today she's not around. She was upstairs, keeping herself busy and out of my way. My father, however, was never one to take a hint.

Giving up, I began buffing the floor. I've never worked harder in my life than since I've retired, and there I was, building up a sweat, putting a fine finish on the floor. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. It was almost hypnotic. Very zen-like. My music was on, but I couldn't hear who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop because the buffer was so loud, but I swear I could still hear my father.

"Ah… oh oh… my my my…"

After I finished, I figured I couldn't pretend not to see him any longer, so I asked him:

"Pop, do you want me to turn on the TV for you?"

"What?"

"Do you want me to turn on the TV for you?"

"What?"

"Do You Want Me To Turn On The TV For You?"

"Do I want you to what?"

"TURN ON THE TV FOR YOU!"

"What are you yelling at me for?"

I went upstairs.

If it wasn't for his constant lip-smacking, I would be more than happy to sit and watch TV with him, just no more baseball games. I'm still shell-shocked from the first year he moved in. I watched more baseball games in that one year than all the other years of my life put together, but I wanted him to feel at home, so I watched.

After that year, I told my wife, "Sweetie, I love my father, but I can't watch any more baseball." She understood. I think that's part of the reason she caters to my father more than she should.

I returned downstairs an hour later. He was still there. Sitting. In the den. The TV off. Eyes closed. Not moving. Was he asleep? Or was he… was he...

I stood there quietly.

SMACK!

I went back upstairs.

All was right with the world.

Why is it the older I get, the earlier it gets late?

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