The Star-News


Father's Day with a proxy family

Sat, Jun 23 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Pena

One of the last words that we hear from Dorothy in the classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” is “there is no place like home.” I can attest to that statement. I returned home the other day after being away for some 25 days and even though I enjoyed every moment of my vacation time, there seemed to be something settling with the thought of getting home.

In my navy days I was away from home for longer periods than this, that is, if you count a nine month stint in WestPac or another nine months in the Mediterranean.  There are some, however, who will not count those times. They were part of what came with the territory.  They were connected with something called working for a living, part of the job.

Vacations or, as the Brit might say, holidays are, of course, something different. They are supposed to be fun times and they generally are. Returning home is part of that. We come back and we are on familiar grounds.  The place looks just as it did before, perhaps maybe a little more run-down but we sort of expect that.  Most of the things seem to be in place. The chairs are waiting to be sat in and beds prepared for a full night’s rest, books and newspapers waiting to be read and, naturally, nothing in the house to eat. And we resume life as before.

One of the first things I did was go to the deck in my backyard barn and sit for a while. This is one of my favorite places. Zula and I used to spend many an afternoon in this bucolic setting, doing nothing, really, admiring the vegetation that seemed to be appearing and listening to and watching the many birds in the area. We especially liked the return of Henry. Henry, you might recall, was the poor crow who could not find a mate. He, by the way, would prefer to be known as a raven. Sounds more romantic than a simple crow.  In any event Henry would return to his perch in the leafless rain tree, there to sing his lament, the equivalent of “Set ‘em up Joe, there is something you ought to know,” and then flying away in the quest for that one that got away.

Henry was not around the other day. He either is on vacation  has moved to more lucrative quarters. He might have even found a girlfriend.  Whatever the case we wish him well.  Nothing worse than unrequited love.
Son David, at his Maryland house, has one of those tube bird feeders.  The birds flock to it like imbibers flocking to the bar at happy hour.  The other day I went over to the local pet store in Bonita and bought one of those feeders. With the help of my caregiver, Patty we loaded it up with gourmet bird food and hung it on Henry’s rain tree. I expected my population of birds to make a bee line to the feeder and entertain me in the daylight hours. So far, nothing.  The fellow at the feed store told me that it will take a short while for the birds to discover the feeder.  Once they do they spread the news and they come from far and wide for a free meal. We also filled the hummingbird feeder with a red liquid that seems to be good enough for humans.  They better come around soon or I will be tempted to imbibe.

I have mentioned that, on my vacation, I was treated like royalty.  I came home in time for Father’s Day. I had the fortune to observe it a day early.

Carmen Otero, a young friend who used to take care of Zula, and her parents Doctor Henry Otero and her mother Reba took me to lunch. We had a pleasant repast at The Galley.  The good doctor and I were feted like the good fathers that we try to be.  Life is good when one is allowed to take a 25 day vacation and then return home and continue receiving the royal treatment.


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