A Storyby Suzanne van de Velde
My father keeps his voice low. He’s confiding classified information. “Yes, yes,” he says impatiently, “I yield on that point, it is somewhat unlikely that they’re bugging me here.” Here meaning his one-bedroom assisted living apartment at Windward Ho! in Tucson.
“Peter, now pay attention, this is important,” he says. “You haven’t got the proper clearances, but needs must. You’re my first choice of civilian.”
It’s been almost two years since I’ve seen him, which I consider mostly his fault. After my mother died, he moved twenty-five hundred miles west, from their house on a cove in Rhode Island out to Arizona. The moving van was in the driveway by the time he told me his plans. He doesn’t brook interference.
He likes the desert. We ride a trolley up a mountain to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. You’d think he was showing me around his house. He knows all the exhibits, which animal’s given birth and which has died. The docents greet him by name. I guess he’s really settled in.
On the way back from the museum, my father tells me to pull in for gas. The Volvo still has well over half a tank, but this way he knows I’ll pay for the fill-up. The odometer reads 189,171.
“That’s a lot of miles, Dad. What are you going to get next time?”