By Steve Cichon | firstname.lastname@example.org | @stevebuffalo
BUFFALO, NY –Been thinking about the ol’man today, so I’m wearing a pair of his pajamas… PROPERTY OF THE VA.
He made dozens of emergency trips to the VA Hospital over the last decade of his life, and was admitted for many of those times, and when he was admitted, there was often a conversation that went like this.
“Hey dad, so I’m going to bring you a Diet Spin (he loved the Tops generic diet cola) and an Autotrader… Do you want me to bring you some clothes to go home in?”
“Nah,” he’d say, “They’ll gimme a new pair of pajamas.”
My ol’man loved getting one over on the VA, and loved leaving that place with another pair of pajamas hanging on his back.
He’d make a half-hearted promise to bring the pajamas back to an orderly who couldn’t have cared any less. “These babies are the best around,” he’d say climbing into my car, tugging on his new NOT FOR SALE emblazoned loungewear.
He had a pretty decent collection when he died– unbeknownst to one another, my brother and I both kept a pair.
“The VA is the best hospital around,” he’d usually say on the trip from Bailey Avenue to Orchard Park.
“Man, this car rides great,” he’d mention, inevitably followed by, “but I do hate riding on this 33. I don’t know how people do it every day.”
Dad had another saying that I think meant something different depending on his mood.
“I wish him well,” started the ol’man’s classic phrase, “but wish him well away from me.”
When he was ambivalent, it sounded like he was saying he has no ill will towards this person, he just doesn’t want to see them.
If it was said with a touch of the caustic rage my ol’man always seemed to have bubbling just below the surface in case he needed it– well then, it sounded like an empty felicitation and a hope that you get the eff away and stay as far away as possible.
I had one of each of those well wishes today, and I avoided driving on the 33 (although I did have to take that damn 290 during rush hour.) Somewhere, Dad is smiling.