Memphis, day 2
The previous night, we didn’t get to sleep until after midnight, and so we enjoyed a leisurely morning and slept in. We finally emerged for lunch with my dad and his girlfriend Faye at a very nice place adjacent to a lake in the far eastern part of the city. We had a lovely time, and Dad and I filled two hours with catching up and swapping stories. Mentally, my dad seemed sharp as ever, but physically he is really showing his age in a way that I haven’t seen before. He’s about to turn 80, so I guess that’s to be expected, but it was still hard to see and contemplate how much (or rather how little) time he may have left. As we were driving back to the condo afterwards, I asked Melody for her impressions. The main thing she mentioned is Dad’s emotional reserve. We talked a bit about my dad’s childhood and upbringing, and the ways in which he isn’t particularly comfortable showing affection. It’s something I’ve seen my whole life and don’t think particularly think about, so it was interesting to examine that through fresh eyes.
We stopped at a market and bought a small pile of supplies for the grocery, mostly soda water and coffee. It seems as though every social gathering on this trip will be over meals, so neither of us are feeling much call for having food available at the condo.
On that note, we had dinner with my cousin Tim and his girlfriend Christy, and my cousin Mark and his wife Tammy. The original plan had been to eat barbecue in a Memphis suburb called Germantown, but the destination had about 30 people milling outside waiting for a table, so I opted for an old favorite place of mine with a really nice creole-influenced menu. My cousins are both Memphis firemen, good ole boys who love hunting and fishing, very conservative politically, religious without any interest in church. We have very little in common, and yet have such a close shared upbringing that I love them both deeply. We sat out on the patio of this restaurant and laughed and told stories and ate wonderful food. Melody got to hear me called “Bobby” and even “Little Bobby”, which tickled her greatly. I don’t know how aware my cousins were that we spent so much time talking about people who aren’t with us anymore; our grandparents, their father, my mother, etc. When we left, my belly was overfull and my heart was overflowing. I’m still hoping to get a little time with Tim later this trip to talk about some more serious issues. I’d like to know how his MS is progressing, and the relationship with his girlfriend seems very serious and there are hints towards marriage, and I’d like to hear where his head is on that.
Much of the day was spent driving through some better parts of the city, which was vaguely reassuring. It lightened my dire prognosis for the city slightly, and I could see how people might make a happy life here. The extraordinarily nice weather certainly helps in that regard, but the temperatures are about to jump ten degrees and I expect there is some sweltering in our future.