My dad will be 94 in June and lives by himself in a condo. His body is only a shell of what it once was, but his mind remains sharp. He still drives, does his own shopping, and reads at least one new book per week. He lives 2.5 hours from me, so I visit him about twice per month. I visited my dad this week and instead of taking him out to dinner, as I do during every visit, I decided to have food delivered. We ate our meal and he then immediately returned to his throne, the recliner in the den, and turned on the TV. As expected, after about 5 minutes his eyes closed. He watches one of three stations, The History Channel, National Geographic, or the news. Since the news was on, I decided to switch channels while I waited for him to wake up. I settled on a blast from the past, The Andy Griffith show. After about a half hour we woke up, looked at the TV, and said “what is this shit?” I answered, “you don’t like Andy Griffith?” He just looked at me with disdain and asked, “Do you want to see my favorite show?” I said OK and he immediately switched to the Kid’s Channel to a cartoon called “Mighty Mike.” I watched him watch this show for an hour, a smile on his face the entire time, and heard him laugh and chuckle often.
I then had a flashback to when I was a kid. My dad didn’t get to watch TV often, but I remembered that when he did it was most often cartoons. The same smile, the same laughter, the same chuckles. So here he was, 60 years later, his body nothing like it used to be, but the child in him was very much the same. It made me think that despite enduring hardship, trauma, and loss, the spark if innocence and pure joy is never truly extinguished.