“Want me to make you one too, hun?”
“No thanks, Dad. I had a bite earlier. Just this tea is fine.”
“I don’t mind. I’m already making one for your mother.”
She watched his slow yet precise movements around the kitchen. He’d always been the cook in the family, taking simple pleasure in the routines. He opened the fridge, took out the bacon, turned to the cutting board, picking up a knife on the way. He cut off two thick slices, placed them in the pan, back to the fridge with the bacon – part of a smooth dance that he’d done for years.
“I’m making her favorite,” he said, “a BLT. Fresh bread from Henderson’s, bacon nice and crispy, a tomato from our garden, some mixed greens, and light mayonnaise. Tell you what, I’ll split it between the two of you.”
“Thanks, Dad,” she said. “So, have you thought about what we talked about?”
“Chelsea Lodge? I don’t know hun, this has always been our home. You grew up here, all our friends are in the neighbourhood.” He gestured around the room. “How could we leave all this?”
“Dad, most of the old neighborhood gang have moved away. Some are even in the same retirement home, don’t you remember when we went last week to see it? And all those friends greeted you and said how much they loved it there?”
“Yes, yes, I remember now,” he said.
She sighed quietly. His memory had really started to slip the past few months. She watched as he took some tongs from a drawer and carefully turned over the bacon pieces.
“Can’t let it cook too fast,” he said.
“We did see a nice unit there, remember Dad? A cosy bedroom, nice sitting room, and a compact kitchen. You could make your own little snacks there. And if you felt like a change, the dining room is quite nice. You’d been impressed with the meal we had there.”
He poked at the bacon, picked it out of the pan and laid it on a paper towel. He carefully sliced some bread, placed it in the toaster, and pushed the lever down. Her father glanced over to the table. “Your mom and I met fifty years ago, you know, and we bought this place together. I’d miss her so much. And I don’t like being alone.”
“She’d never be far from you, Dad. And we’d all come to visit you often. It’s only a few miles away.”
“I know,” he said. “But it’s a big change. My goodness, what would we do with all this stuff?”
“Dan and I have lots of storage,” she said. “We can help you sort through things, separate what you really need now from what you might need later. And maybe you’ll find some things you’ve enjoyed but can now pass on to the needy.”
He plucked the toast out as it popped, buttered it carefully, then spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on both slices.
“We really have settled in here,” he said. “It’s been a long and happy life together.”
He added the bacon, tomato, and greens, slowly and methodically, sliced it in half, and set the two plates on the table.
“There you go, for my two favorite girls.”
She enjoyed her half-sandwich and watched her dad clean up the kitchen, listening to him chatter on about some TV show. He wasn’t doing too badly physically. She’d hired a weekly housekeeper to help with some laundry and vacuuming, and to try to manage all the leftovers in the fridge.
“Thanks, Dad, this was nice. Sorry I have to run, but I’ll be back next week.”
“We’re always glad to see you,” he said. “I’ll get your coat.”
She picked up both plates, hers and the untouched one across the table. As she tipped the other half-sandwich into the garbage and stacked the plates in the sink, she wondered how long it would take him to adjust to his loss. She pushed in her chair, and walked into the front hall.
“Take care, Dad. We’ll talk some more in a few days.”