"So, are you planning on spending the night tonight?" he'd ask.
When I'd announce I was spending the entire weekend, he would look overjoyed, "Oh! Good, good! So..., you'll be here all weekend, then? That's great!"
Sometimes, he would ask me this more than once and when he realized it, he would simply laugh and say, "I already asked you that, didn't I? Why am I repeating myself?" and he'd laugh, and then drink another glass of wine.
I'm not quite sure why - if his intention had been to regulate his amount of drinking? - but he often drank wine out of a small juice glass.
Unfortunately, he had a tendency to continually refill his juice glass. It was difficult to tell whether his drinking confounded his memory, or his memory confounded his drinking.
It's hard to know.
Today, Dad asked me, "Are you going to be here all weekend?"
I don't bother explaining anymore that this is my house, that we live here, that of course, I'm going to be here this weekend, just like every other weekend for the past two years.
I simply said, "Yes, Dad, I'm going to be here all weekend."
And he looked like a happy Bob.
"You're my favorite daughter, you know," he said.
I'm his only daughter.
"Yes, Dad, I know. And you're my favorite father."
He doesn't talk much anymore. I miss his political rants. Even though I mostly disagreed with him, I'd relish a debate with him now. We used to argue nearly constantly. It was a lot of fun. He understood validity and didn't just argue randomly. It's an art form I miss. I guess I argue more with Dana than probably anyone, but he's not good at it, so it's no fun at all. Indeed, I may never meet someone who is as good at arguing with me as my Dad was. Skillful.
"We should write a book of fatherly lectures together," he had suggested one morning in the car, after eating our hundredth breakfast at the Hutte in Kinderhook. We ate most of our breakfasts here - early in the morning. He liked to drag me out of bed around 6 in the morning - he'd already been out for the past hour on his bicycle. He knew he could always lure me out with the promise of french toast at the Hutte. Around 8 - in the morning - Dad would go down for his first nap. (Napping is a family sport.)
He cleared his throat and dramatically announced, "Bob Brown's 'Fatherly Lecture Number Three-Hundred and Twenty-Two. Do not leave behind the price tags from new clothing after removing them from the garment. They should be disposed of immediately! After all, someone might choke on them!"
I remember looking at him like he was an idiot but I was laughing—on the inside.
"Fatherly Lecture Two-Hundred and Seventy-Nine. Do not rotate your tires at a traffic light. Make certain to keep them straight when you are stopped at a red light. If you do not, someone could come up behind you and push you! Ram you right into coming traffic! I knew some girls once in Hudson. Used to stop in at Dell's Shell, where I pumped gas at my brother's garage. They were goofing around one night, not paying attention at the intersection. Driver turned her wheel, someone smashed into her, and pushed the car right into oncoming traffic! They were all decapitated by a snow plow...you know, you should never distract the driver at an intersection..."Half-serious, half-mad. All I know is I sure could use a good fatherly lecture right about now.