So after six months of weekly Skyping, we were on the verge of a face to face meeting. with Dad in Hungary. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I spent a good deal of my free time on the 8 hour flight to Budapest deliberating with myself as to how I should or would react and how he is likely to respond to my reaction the moment we saw each other. It was an emotional and intellectual to and fro and mental gymnastics. Would I cry? Should I cry? I would tear up, just thinking about that moment. Will he cry, I guessed yes. Would that get me going? I also guessed yes. As the plane landed and taxied for what seemed forever, waiting for 300 plus passenger to disembark waiting for our turn, the anxiety kept on escalating.
As I was being wheeled out of customs area to the public side of the airport my eyes were searching for him among the waiting crowd. I knew his face by now, but only from the chin up, so I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for. Then I heard Linda shouting my name from behind me somewhere. I got out of the wheelchair and turned around and there she was standing next to him.
A frail small framed elderly gentleman started walking towards me with a distinct limp yet a noticeable spunk in his gait outpacing Linda who was trying to keep up to help him along. He needed no help! He put his arms around me and I cupped his face with my hands and looked into his eyes which were now well teared as were mine. To be honest I cannot recall what he said or what I said, except “Apu” [Dad]. Regardless, the moment felt really good and the feeling was one that I really only remember experiencing once before, but that’s for another time.
While the moment was precious, it was fleeting. Our first embrace was cut short by the chaos of our surroundings; the logistics of our embrace [in the middle of the flow of humanity exiting the customs area]; the search for luggage and Dad’s ensuing attempt to call the cabbie that brought him to the airport, to take us back to his flat in Pest. His cell phone wasn’t co-operating, and he had a heck of a time getting through to the cabbie. That was my first experience with his tenacity, doggedness and single purpose focus. I also quickly internalized that his English was English, not Canadian. Every time he got annoyed at his phone in trying to reach the cabbie, he would in frustration swear – “Bloody Hell!”.
There you have it. A somewhat frail diminutive 93 year old with a distinctive gait; a gait that struggles between a limp from a bad knee and the spunk of independence. After two weeks I found out the genesis of both the limp and the spunk. The limp was from a downhill skiing accident at age 85 in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Spain ending his skiing career. The spunk, well that’s a longer story. Stay tuned.¬