I walked into my father's room with my usual cheery call "Anyone home?" He was standing at the window, fiddling with the lever. He loves levers and latches and knobs. When I was young, he was forever fixing things around the house, puttering with the tools. He loved gadgets and kits. He built a radio and a microwave oven. He built an off-road motorbike and a Bradley GT - a jazzy fiberglass sports car constructed around a VW chassis. His favorite tool now is a Fisher Price toy key ring with giant keys in primary colored plastic.
When I came in, he dropped the plastic key chain and came quickly toward me. I am careful not to touch him without his permission - he is easily startled and often frightened. But this time, he held out his arms for a hug. I wrapped my arms around my father's shoulders and felt his head lower and press into my neck. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of crying. My father was crying.
The aide hovered near the window, giving us privacy. When he saw my anguished expression, he came closer. "He cries a lot now," the aide said. I held him tightly. His whole body sobbed, sobbed against me. The sound was awful! I held my breath, willing him to stop; my heart wrenched with his every moan.
"Mostly he cries when he's happy," the aide said softly.
As if that makes it easier.