By now my father couldn’t walk, so he’d gotten an expensive new wheelchair that could move better than he could, even during the first two years of his disease.
He’d sit and explore places in the neighborhood that he never would have had he still been able to use his legs, seeing parts of Parkersburg that he’d probably deemed too dangerous before he’d gotten a diagnosis that made danger seem negligible at best. He and I decided to go into town, a short walk for me down to Main Street Parkersburg. The small stretch was lined with antique stores, filled with the detritus from old family estates that lined the Ohio River. He always loved antiques, but like many things held dear by the contemplative man, could never really explain to me why, no matter how many times I asked. I’d venture to assume it was the same reason I now do - seeing the meaninglessness of something, once the person who originally owned it isn’t around to explain its meaning.
At one antique store in particular, which simultaneously functioned as the local art gallery of Parkersburg, we decided to go to the top floor, where they stored everything from Christmas ornaments to unsold heirlooms. We weren’t allowed there, but no one was going to stop a man in the kind of wheelchair you get when all of your money is going to an unstoppable disease. We went up together, then we split apart, exploring the space individually. I watched as my father relished in his own rebellion, trying to soak up every observation he could, while he still could. Everything he chose to look at, he looked at with sincere intention, down to the dust on the window sill. I found a pen in my pocket and carved his name into a wood beam. I said that he’d live forever.
Then, we walked home.