All week he kept asking me if we were going to go to First Friday. I would tell him the same thing each time. It depends on the weather buddy boy, and how you are feeling. I played this conversation many times each day. I have to admit, although I never mentioned it to him, that I was concerned about taking him with only him and I. He is getting more and more unstable each week with his Parkinson’s. I sadly watch his knees buckling a little further all the time. I can tell that he is having great difficulty standing. The doctors tell me to keep reminding him to STAND UP!!! Do you have any idea how that makes a fifty-six year old man feel when his sister is riding his case over and over about the same thing. He puts that special look on his face when he hears my words, and stiffens those legs erect. Now, a week later, I do not stress him out with this anymore. I tell him one time, and if he can do it, great, and if he can not, it is not because he doesn’t want to. His legs are just getting weak. I am not going to listen to the doctors this time. I know if I couldn’t control something, I wouldn’t want some nag on my case all the time. Well, back to First Friday. It was sunny all day, with a chill in the air. All through the day, every time I glanced his way, he would smile so big at me. You know, one of those smiles that makes your heart melt. I knew why the smiles were there. It was First Friday. I called a dear friend and asked him if he could go with us to have the company and to also be there in case he fell. He said sure. Isn’t it great, when friends understand and accept unconditionally? Well, we all went to my brother’s favorite restaurant, where they have the best fish ever. All you can eat, which is one reason my brother loves to go. He just loves fish. When we sat down, and ordered, from then to the end of dinner, I bet half a dozen people came up to him and said hello, how ya doing, haven’t seen ya for a while. Each time my brother’s face lit up like a big old Christmas tree. He loved chatting with ones he knew and also anyone he didn’t know. After supper, we walked about a block, sitting to listen to the live band, and sometimes just for him to rest. I am so glad that I called my friend to go with us. To see my brother be so very happy for just a little bit was worth more than anything I could ever buy for him. Thank you First Friday for making a special man happy in his times of struggling.
Now that spring is officially here, it takes me back in time of days where my dad should have hated me, but he didn’t. Every spring he and his friend would take me mushroom hunting. My dad could spot them from far away. We never left empty-handed, thanks to him. They would go their way, and I would venture off a ways from them. We all carried empty orange netted bags. Every once in a while, I would hear my dad yell, are you doing ok? Are you finding any? I would always yell back, I am fine. I am doing ok. In the silence of the woods, I could hear him yell at his friend, telling him to come look what he had found. I could hear the laughter coming from the two of them. Mean while I was becoming annoyed with myself and more determined with each step, that I was going to find a mushroom, but in time I would find that from bending my neck down for so long, I would become distracted from finding mushrooms, as I kept catching myself stopping and rubbing my neck. I would find my mind wandering to where Mom was and what was she doing. I bet she was shopping and eating lunch with her friends. I would start to daydream about school, friends, and cute boys. I don’t know how long we were in the woods, but it seemed like we walked for hours. We probably were not out there longer than two. Dad would catch up with me and notice that I didn’t have any in my bag. He sat me down on a log and pointed out to me where the sun was, point to certain plants with umbrellas on them, showed me moss on the trees, and explain how the moss was a big signal for me. After we both rested, we would part ways, and back to hunting we would go. I didn’t want my Dad to think I couldn’t find mushroom, so I was more determined at that moment, to crawl on the ground, if it meant finding just one. Silence was heavy around me. No one must be finding them now, as I heard no laughter or chatter. About an hour later Dad and his friend came to where I was looking. They both stood their, looking at each other, with hands on their hips. My Dad’s friend was laughing so hard I wondered if he was going to pee his pants. He was doubled over from laughing so loud. They had both caught me crawling on hands and knees, bag tucked in my jeans, head bent as if praying. My Dad didn’t laugh though. He just stood there for a moment, maybe considering how to tell me in a fatherly way, that I was crawling on the mushrooms . They were right there underneath my knee. Obviously, I never was asked to go again. The only thing I can say in defense about those mushroom trips is, that later in life, I learned I was color blind.