My dad, well, he isn't much of a talker. It is one of the many ways in which we differ. He's the kind of 'Here's your mother' ... kind of dad when he answers the phone. Conversations are best about the weather and are even better when short. As I said, he's not much of a talker.
I went to visit my parents last weekend. My dad is 92 years old and my mother a few years younger than that. When we were there something happened that surprised me to my core. We were all sitting around. My brother and his wife were there, my mother also of course, and we were having teas and coffees and just catching up.
Dad turns to me and tells me a story.
My Dad is not a natural born story teller, well, that's what I would have said seconds before he launched into this story. In fact he told the story well. Paused, built interest and had a sucker punch ending. I'm sitting there thinking, 'The man telling me this story is my Dad. The, 'here's your mom' guy. Further, I realized a few seconds in that this is a story chosen for me. He recognized it as a story that I would be interested in. Here's my dad's story, written, unfortunately with my words. I will not capture his tone, his cadence nor the words he chose.
He was down picking up a guidebook of hotels and motels in B.C. While he was there picking it up one of the staff asked him if he found the guidebook helpful.
Gee, I can't just let him tell his story, I'm going to interject, my dad is, for the most part, a go with the flow kind of guy, a not make waves guy, a decent nice man. So his response added to my shock.
"I told them that, no the guidebooks weren't that helpful at all," he said. "They asked me why and I said that it was one of the few guidebooks where none of the hotels had any indicators of whether or not they were accessible. I told them that my wife used a wheelchair and we needed an easy way to choose where to stay. The clerk said that she was sure I was wrong so I showed her. Not one. Not one hotel had any information about accessibility. She was shocked"
Not only was she shocked she took down my Dad's information! Here's Dad again:
"Well, wouldn't you know it, I got a letter from the states. The people who publish the guidebook and they apologized for having missed that detail in their publication and would look into ensuring that it would be included in upcoming publications."
That's my dad!!
The guy I thought I didn't have much in common with.
I shouted, "That's where I got it!" and threw my arms in the air. That Hingsburger blood has an advocacy gene in it that I didn't know about.
My dad knows that I battle for disability rights, he knew that I'd like the story. And I did.
As we left, every time we do so we wonder if we will all ever be together again, my dad put his hand on my back, he doesn't do that either, and said, "You take really good care of yourself won't you?" His voice was soft.
It sounded like he said goodbye.
I hope not.
I'm guessing there are more stories.