Granddaddy Juice

My dad, Jim Donaho, is settling into old age with not nearly enough to do besides watch TV and smoke. He comes up here from the Valley to visit us once a month (and more importantly, have his poker game, go to pub trivia, see his shrink and play the occasional game of bridge). When he comes to visit, he brings liters and liters of Diet Coke, which he drinks about one of every day, as well as this V8 Fusion stuff, which could be dismissed as sugary, horrible juice except that is like a V8, only sweet. As in, it has the nutrients of 8 fruits AND vegetables. Or something. But it is the most nutritious thing he ingests on a regular basis.

And Lu loves it. She calls it Granddaddy Juice. She is allowed to have one sugary, nutritious serving every day, even when he is not around. She also loves her granddaddy, and when I see him patiently play with her, I remember the dad he was to me as a little girl. Always a man of indulgent juices, he let me drink heavily doctored “coffee milk” on Sunday mornings starting around age four. When he and Mom divorced, we’d go on Tuesday night dates to the Hunan Restaurant, then rolling skating (i.e., I’d rollerskate; he’d read a book, smoke and wave every single time I rolled by and said, “Hi, Daddy.”).

This is a man who lives to be ruled by women (there’s a long and storied history of them in his past, my mother, stepmother, grandmother, sisters, and me, most notably). Lucy can tell this, and she orders him around more fiercely than anyone. Plus, she worries about him: why does he smoke? where is he right now? where does he live? why doesn’t he live here all the time? maybe we should call him.

Tonight, when I kissed and hugged him goodbye, he said, in classic Lu style, “Wait, we forgot to high-five.” Poor guy, he is taking orders from a whole new generation of women. And I think he’s lucky for it.