Life after 70

When I started blogging, it didn’t occur to me that one of my finest sources of material would be my Dad, but here it is, #3 in the Ron chronicles.

A couple of weeks after Dad’s 70th birthday, and my gift of rock cakes to him, I speak to him on the phone, and he mentions “I put those rock cakes in the freezer the other day. I’m eating them but they’re a bit hard…”. I wonder how long it was until they went into the freezer.

Also for his birthday at the beginning of February, I’d chosen and written a message in a lovely card and enclosed details of the show we were going to, which was Dad’s actual birthday gift. When we meet them at the end of March to go to the show, my stepmother produces the card from her bag, unopened. It’d been assigned to her for reasons I can’t fathom, so don’t bother going into.

We had dinner before the show at the theatre’s brasserie. Fail #1 – no oysters on the menu. In fact there are no entrees at all. We try to make it up to Dad by requesting an extra bread roll, and pointing out the dessert menu.

Fail #2 – the roast beef fillet served on potato gratin, green beans, mushroom ragout and café de paris butter comes out as an elegant rather than generous portion size. “I should’ve ordered two”. He’s puzzled by the café de paris butter, pokes it with his knife and qualifies it with “What’s this? I ‘spose I can eat it”. The G.O. echoes Dad’s sentiments, but by the end, their eyes bigger than their bellies, Dad offers the placatory bread roll, the G.O. declines, and Dad manages to eat it to make a point.

Persuaded to accept dessert is the only other course on offer and not wanting to miss something the rest of us are having, Dad chooses a chocolate brownie with espresso ice cream and roast coffee crumble, which he seems to enjoy as it disappears rapidly, even though he hasn’t got a clue what he’s eating.

We all enjoy the show: barbershop quartet Benchmark and AO rated clever Rod Gregory, The Old Fella, who is about Dad’s age and after a back injury recreated his life from farmer to comedian. Even though Dad’s taken up strumming a guitar, he’s not about to hit the stage but I was hoping he might assimilate some of Rod’s post-retirement zest for life.

We spend the night at their house. Upon leaving the next day Dad encourages us to take with us a weedy pot with a tree growing in it, telling us he’s not sure what it is, it grew up the back from a seed they chucked in the compost, a mango or an avocado or…

I often give Dad a call during the day from my office desk, when my stepmother is at work and he’s home on his own. The dull noise my co-workers hear during these calls is either laughter or me pounding my head on the desk.

Asking Dad if he’s heard from my sister who’s recently moved interstate, I get. “No. Yes. But I can’t understand her”. I respond “Yeah, her phone always sounds like she’s down a well”. He clarifies “I can never hear her… I should put my hearing aid in”.

He mentions his chatty active  retired cousin has invited him to go with her and her travelling companion to Queensland to visit her brother who is ailing, likely dying. When I ask what the matter is, Dad pauses, grasps for words “… in his fork”.

He tells me he’d been in trouble on his 7oth birthday weekend for jokingly suggesting the same busy cousin’s “appetites” were the cause of her late husband’s demise. This I know him to be innocent of, he’s far too bashful to make baudy innuendo. I console Dad by suggesting he’s been misinterpreted, and it would be more likely the talkative cousin’s late husband is now enjoying a bit of quiet.

I advise Dad that his tree which we think is a mango, is doing well transplanted at Taylors Arm. He counters with “there’s more, one of each, I think, or it might be 2 avocados.”

I compliment him on the home grown pumpkin he gave us also, and what a great soup it made. The G.O.’s favourite. He responds “Bloody pumpkins. Your grandfather used to feed them to the cows.” “Did he really? Didn’t you eat them?” “Oh I don’t know… you know I don’t like pumpkin”.

Dad’s official occupation is retiree but he moonlights as a relief school and community bus driver. This means he has to report any income he earns. Dad has one last item of news… the bane of his existence… Centrelink. The necessary web link’s not working so he’s off to their office but he’s persona non grata at the local branch… For a moment I wonder how he accomplished this but as previous conversations play out in my head, I remember a song he sang to me a kid “there was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead, when she was good, she was very very good, when she was bad she was horrid”… I’ve had my moments too.

Dad calls me late on Mother’s Day. A tough day for him. He misses his mum, my mum, and being the centre of attention… as all therock cakes calls, visits and gifts on this day are for my stepmother. He’s also subtly checking how I am. He reports there are now 3 treelings waiting for us. Towards the end of the call, his attentions waivers, he’s got to go. His parting words are… “I need more rock cakes”.

Postscript: I was telling my aunt, Dad’s sister, via email about the rock cakes. Her response “It’s funny you say about the rock cakes, your Mum used to make them!!!”. Cue Aha Moment.

Other Ron posts are:

26 thoughts on “Life after 70

  1. Ah, he’s a treasure. I’m wondering if he remembered to defrost the rock cakes first.. 😉 And it’s hilarious when they can’t hear, although sometimes it’s hard to distinguish if they’re deaf or going a bit bonkers. My dad is 83 and as deaf as a post. When he last visited my sister overseas, just before he came home, my young niece wrapped herself around his legs and pleaded…”Kong Kong, please don’t leave!!”. He patted her on the head and smiled benignly, then replied, “Don’t worry darling, your tempura will be ready soon..”. 😀


    1. That made me laugh – so good that your dad travels, at 83. Ah yes, I think it’s the case of a bit of both with my Dad. And, you never know if he’s wearing his hearing aid.


  2. There’s a lot between the lines here that I won’t go into here 😉

    Ron is an absolute classic and I love these posts. My dad also liked the ‘little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead’ saying and they sound very similar in character! 😉


  3. your dad is a classic elladee …. i love to read about him, bless his smelly socks! love the idea of you banging your head quietly on the desk …. the dinner experience is hilarious … so glad appetites were satisfied in the end … you know it is always going to be like that, anywhere you go!


    1. Thank you 🙂 Dad loves his tucker, and it turned out well in the end. We all enjoyed the show, but Dad particularly liked the visit, and that we stayed the night.


  4. Hee hee, ‘there was a little girl’ was often said about me when I was small. 😀

    I know that bang your head on the desk feeling. Talking to my dad on the phone is both lovely and frustrating. He says “yes” when he means “I’m thinking” so off you go with the rest of the conversation until later when he takes back up at the “yes” and completely confuses everyone!

    I love hearing the ongoing adventures of Ron and I’m laughing at the thought of him being banned from centrelink, at least you know you aren’t alone when you are banging your head on the desk! 😉


    1. It’s hard to be annoyed with Dad because it’s mostly the annoying things where we are alike. My youngest sister is much like him/me too 🙂
      There surely must be an identifiable Dad Gene. Their quirks are just too funny.
      I’m glad you enjoy the posts – I did check with the G.O., and he confirms my feelings that they are well intentioned and harmless. Dad is just too entertaining to forgo them.


      1. I believe there is a dad gene too. Number 1 son is so much like my dad it is scary. Hopefully, in time, his children aren’t driven to distraction by his wilful deafness as my dad does to us! 😀


  5. Your Dad sounds like a sweetie, a bit daft but aren’t they all? Mine took up busking with the violin in his 60’s and played until he was about 87. I suspect he should have worn his hearing aid as well but he still managed to become kind of famous in busking circles. I miss him.


    1. Thank you 😉 Hmmm, daft sometimes and sharp when it suits. Ditto with the hearing. That’s a great memory of your dad. I’m just thinking of mine busking…oooh… maybe I’ll suggest it next time I’m trying to come up with ideas to entice him to get out of the house.


  6. I sympathise with your Dad as I can’t often tell what people are saying on the telephone – and I’m not deaf or anywhere near 70!

    Has he tried thawing out the rock cakes in the microwave (on low)? – they will probably come out like newly baked 🙂


    1. Dad spent his working life as a mechanic so has hearing loss, tinnitus and a hearing aid but I agree, it may not be his fault… I also have trouble hearing/understanding that sister 😉
      We taste tested the rock cakes when I made them, and they were perfect. It may be the transition process from the boot of the car to the dining table to the freezer that caused it.
      When I give him the next batch, if he’s going to freeze them, I’ll mention your tip 🙂


  7. Your Father sounds like quite a character, EllaDee! I had similar restaurant experiences with my Mom and his hearing “difficulties” remind me of Zia, who has the same issues. She and her lady friends belong to a Seniors Club and they play Bingo every Tuesday. I would love to go one day just to see how the game is run. With everyone shouting at each other so that they can be heard, the noise level must be deafening to those with good hearing. 🙂


    1. Thank you… I never realised his food quirks until later in life… I was always made to eat what was in front of me… I wish I’d know when I was a teenager about his dislike of pumpkin… I love it, and we’d have been eat a lot of it. Dad takes his hearing aid out when we are all home, as it’s far too loud for him… Maybe I can suggest Bingo to Dad, he really need to get out of the house more 🙂


  8. I can relate to so much in this post EllaDee, parents, they can be a trial. I love my mum, but I hate taking her out down here, it is so much better if I go up there. 🙂


    1. 🙂 One of the good & necessary things about getting older is my sense of humour has too, so what I once would have found frustrating I find endearing & funny 🙂


  9. LOL. He sounds like a delight. I think he and Grandma H would get along or butt heads in a fun way. 🙂 I can’t wait to find out what kind of fruit that tree actually bears and what the next few plants are too.


    1. Thanks you. Now I’ve gotten to know Grandma H a little, I often think about her when I’m writing about Dad 🙂 They’d get along I think. So many trees, and we have a smallish yard, but we’re hoping our tenant will be ok with us planting them in his.


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