Overcast Saturdays

When I was a small child, I noticed a different kind of feeling for each day of the week.  A particular distinction stood out between weekdays and weekends, when my father was home. A lifelong early riser, I was awake when my father started early on Saturday mornings to do work around the home or in the yard, and I would watch as he did grown-up, daddy sorts of things.  On occasion, he would take me with him to fuel up his 1969 Dodge Dart or buy molding at the lumber store.

For some reason, these mornings in my memory were usually gray days, the harsh rays of the sun diffused and the cast of the road and landscape taking on a serene dignity.  I enjoyed sitting in the front seat, even if the ride were short, even if the purpose mundane. It was Saturday; I was with my father.

Today, my father suffers from kidney failure and must receive dialysis three days a week.  On Saturday mornings, I rise as early as ever and drive just over an hour to wake him, prepare a breakfast for the two of us, and drive him just under a mile to the clinic where he receives his treatments.  During his session, I return to his house and sit at the kitchen table to do a few hours of work. By afternoon, my brother, who lives with my father, calls to let me know whether he will finish work early enough for us all to have dinner together.

My father is exhausted after I bring him home from the clinic, but I cannot help but suspect that he, too, sees Saturday as a day apart.  It’s the day when I come over early to drive him to dialysis, and when he often has supper in the evening at the table with his two sons.

I enjoy my Saturdays at my father’s, but for some reason, I am particularly fond of the ones when the sun remains behind the clouds and the road runs calmly beneath my car.  I wonder whether Dad notices the sky and the scenery as he sits in the front seat of my car, his cane lying across his lap.


Overcast Saturdays

Nothing soothes like an overcast Saturday,
When the vibrant colors of a livid workweek
Must flee the sky and landscape in favor
Of a placid blandness seemingly seeking
To restore a sense of balance.

And how much more the comfort
That creeps into my spirit
When, driving east in the morning
And west to return home in the evening,
The heavens defer for a day
The glare and glint of weekly details and demands.

11 thoughts on “Overcast Saturdays

  1. You cast an appreciation for gray days that I have never shared, but can now see the merit, and the glimpse into the intimate time spent with your father is privileged, indeed. Thank you. I shared a similar experience with a weekly drive north to my parents every Wednesday evening after school for a visit and dinner when my mom was failing. Memories of those meals sustain me still.

    1. Thanks, Deb. I feel other members of my family–being closer to where my father lives–carry much of the load. I am merely happy to do what I can on Saturdays. I believe, however, as you seem to suggest, that this cherished weekly ritual will be a part of me forever. I would like some time to hear more about your Wednesdays.

  2. Brights and grays, dawn to dusk, your post takes me across the gamuts. And isn’t that what life is, the same but different set of experiences as viewed by our myriad selves? I enjoyed how you show the progression of time. For it progresses, whether we like it or not!

  3. Loved your slice, speaking of time spent with your father, in childhood and now. But your poem “Overcast Saturdays” is exceptional. You speak of the comfort that creeps into the spirit as you perform this weekly ritual. Something tells me that seeing you each week is a comfort to your dad too.

  4. This is a beautiful slice. I love the circle of life feeling- how you looked forward to time with your dad on a Saturday as a kid and now you go to help him and drive him to his treatments/ have dinner together. I loved the expression “the glare and glint…”

  5. Wow Paul- I am floored by this post. Your back and forth between the quiet joy of a day with your Dad when you were young to supporting him now through his dialysis leaves me thinking of the flow of life. The ups and downs, the changes that we all have- my parents are in their mid-70s. I know that life will change for me as it has for you. I work to be present and relish the moments I have now, especially the ones where my children can be with my parents. Thank you for this post- it solidifies the feelings of gratitude I have for each one of my moments (when I remember to be grateful!)

    1. I appreciate your comment, as I, too, see the circle completing itself. Remembering to be grateful, as you put it, is an important priority. When my old man is slow to get into the car, and we are late for his appointment, I purposefully remind myself that the world can wait, and he and I can enjoy our time together. Thanks.

  6. What an amazing slice. From the past to the present. From the role of son as child to the role of son as caretaker. Clearly, you love you Father. It’s pretty cool how the overcast Saturdays are the common thread. Well written piece – another one that begs me to read it again!

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