The only explanation that makes sense is that somewhere around the age of 70 we go from being mammals to being reptiles and that is why my parents keep their house near the temperature needed to melt metal. Frankly, it’s surprising the framing in the furniture holds up, but it does explain the ceramic tile flooring.
My parents, collectively, spent about a-hundred-and-twenty years braving New York winters and shoveling snow, but now that they have retired to southern Florida, if the temperature dips below the numbers the news associates with a ‘heat index’ they wear mittens.
My mother has never been consistent in temperature, but my father was, historically, a furnace. He was the guy you sidled up to when you were cold. He had big, meaty hands that could cover mine and keep me warm no matter how cold it got outside. I asked him how he did that, and he’d waggle his eyebrows up and down like Groucho Marx and he’d tell me that daddies could do anything they wanted to do.
Now, I visit my parents in the subtropics where normal people re-up their deodorant every six hours or so, and I look at the thermostat indoors only to find that they have the setting on “heat.” It’s a wet heat, though, so it’s extra intolerable. Honestly, I don’t know why they bother using the appliances to cook their food. The entire kitchen is convection oven. Their food, much like the flesh on my body, begins to cook the moment it makes contact with the air.
My daddy, once a linebacker on his high school football team, now weighs no more than my fifteen-year old daughter and can’t keep himself warm, just like reptiles can’t. Colon cancer will do that to a man. He shivers as the air shimmies in the heat and I sweat salty streams. My mother does her part to contribute to the heat by lighting up a cigarette not six feet from the oxygen tank the respiratory therapist wants her to use to help with the symptoms of lung cancer. We have given up arguing with her because her logic, “What? Am I afraid I’m going to get lung cancer?” is impeccable.
In his way, he’s still keeping me warm in the only way he can for as long as he can. He can’t do it with his hands anymore. They say reptiles are cold-blooded and can’t show love: if you keep them as pets they only cuddle up to you for your warmth. I don’t know if that’s the reason my father holds my hands, but I know why I squeeze him back.
Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.