Last night, as I was doing my usual doomscrolling of social media before bed, a cousin on my dad’s side reached out to me. “Hey is your dad all right? We’ve been trying to reach him. Tell him to call Uncle in California.” At first I thought maybe something had happened to Uncle, and then realized that my relatives were worried about my dad! A bit alarmed, I called him and got this weird robot message: “the number you have dialed has calling restrictions.”
I messaged him and emailed, texted my stepmom – nothing. I figured it was late, so I probably wouldn’t hear from him till morning; I told my cousin this and tried my best to go to sleep. I really don’t talk to my dad that often, though I had just texted him last Wednesday. He’d sent me a truly cheesy heart necklace for my birthday, in the style of one of those Facebook t-shirts, with every cheesy and generic dad sentiment crammed into wavy font lines, and it was simultaneously sweet and cringe. I stashed the heart pendant into one of my many cluttered drawers, next to random USB cables. I had texted him a thank you, but was too busy arguing with people on the Internet to give him a proper call back.
Of course, 2020 being the WORST YEAR EVER, the worst case scenarios kept cycling through my mind. Could I send one of my cousins or aunties to go check on him in Wichita? What if both he and my stepmom had COVID, and then exposed my aunt? What if a serial axe murderer had gotten to them? It’s not like that sort of thing is totally unheard of in Wichita. I kicked myself for not ever taking a photo of the list of emergency contacts in my dad’s cupboard, which included his neighbors’ names and phone numbers.
I made a hasty, not-thought-through plan to drop off Oliver at my sister’s and drive cross country. A bit of a rough solo trip prior to COVID, but in these times? I don’t love the idea of being Asian and having to stop at truck stops in redneck areas to get gas or use the bathroom. (Silver lining, gas is cheap?)
In the morning, I tried to do yoga and not feel immense daughter-guilt at not having called him. I was trying to do downward dog and holding back tears, when suddenly the Facetime call came in. It was my dad, and he was fine – he had just done a very him thing and had blocked ALL incoming calls because he was getting tired of robocalls about the upcoming election. “Okay, Dad, but you had us all worried there.” 😂
We then caught up – he’s doing fine, except his face is still a bit swollen from some tooth extraction he had the last time I’d talked to him. Again, given that we don’t chat that often, I found this a little alarming. He’s been understandably wary of going in for procedures in COVID-times, but he does have a check-up scheduled at least. He complained about eating nothing but soup and Ensure for the past few months. “I miss meat,” he said. (He can’t have fresh veggies very easily either, but doesn’t miss those).
“I tried to eat pizza,” he said, and when I quizzed him about how, he mentioned that he had blended a pizza in the blender. Pepperoni and grease and all. “How in the world did that taste?” He said “it all right, not too bad,” which can’t be at all true. He is also thinking about trying the same experiment, but with a banh mi sandwich, which he also misses.
Despite being third-party witness to this food crime, I’m ever grateful to have my dad here on Earth – still being, you know, my dad. 🍕