Dad and Stepmom left for camp this morning. Not "camping", but camp, as in sleep-away camp. There is a program for seniors at one of the Jewish camps in the Laurentian mountains, north of Montreal.
They've been going every year for awhile now, and are treated like royalty because Stepsis runs the program.
Groups of over-60 year olds attend for two weeks at a time, have their own rooms (no bunkhouses for them!), kosher meals, activities, socializing, exercises and swimming in a gorgeous country setting.
This was the first time I saw them off in person. Up until less than a year ago, Dad did everything on his own. I never even went to a doctor's appointment with him until last fall. One year while wintering in Florida, he was hospitalized for a few days with pneumonia, and didn't even tell me until he was released! I prefer having a more active role in his life but wish it hadn't required a serious illness to make it happen.
I picked them up and brought them and their luggage to the bus pick-up point nearby. There were about ninety (as I was told) seniors waiting to board the busses, and many more relatives and friends, and children and pets, ready to wave goodbye.
When the first bus pulled up, Dad didn't move from his perch on a low wall, and told me to watch. A sea of white and grey heads formed near the bus doors, even before the bus came to a stop. It was difficult to figure out why.. the program was pre-paid and there had to be room for all. Did they all want front seats? Did they want to be sure to sit with their friends? Poor Stepsis was in the middle of the crush, trying to keep them from trampling each other and falling under the bus. I'm sure some of the women thought they were in Filene's basement!
I realized how difficult it must be to keep order in such a group. Children may be unruly, but somewhere inside they know they're supposed to listen to adults. Seniors know no such thing.. the "adults" are their own children! Even Dad and Stepmom, bored while waiting for the busses, were playfully poking each other with their canes. It reminded me of the five year olds I used to supervise in my lunch mother days.
The second bus arrived, and Stepsis found them seats right in the front. I stood there on the sidewalk, looking at them through the open bus door, and kept telling Dad to remember to call. It was almost as bad as the time Older Son went to the same camp, at age 11. At least then I had Younger Son to keep me busy!
On my way home I stopped to pick up some groceries, and ran into an acquaintance from my bowling league. She asked if the kids were in camp (probably not realizing how old they are now) and I had to say no, the kids are working, but my parents are in camp! What a strange world.
This is the weirdest one yet.. weirder even than the Wal-Mart guy. I won't even attempt to describe it, you just have to see it for yourself.