Father’s day just passed. And today my work consisted of designing a page on the new Toonhound website for Mort. So my father is heavily in my thoughts.

Despite covid restrictions, Dad’s group home allowed us to take him out for a family meal on father’s day. We agreed to avoid restaurants and public exposure and opted instead to bring him to my brother’s house for the evening. We ordered take-out from his favorite place, the Olive Garde, and he ate like a horse.

Dad is barely ambulatory. His hearing is shot and he’s incontinent. He’s in pull-up sweats that are puffy in the crotch from the adult diapers he’s got on. His wheelchair is at least two years old now and surprisingly beat up. We all agree it’s time to get him a new one.

It’s easy to get down about dad and his situation. It’s easy to focus on all that we’ve lost. But it’s just as relevant to focus on what we still have. Frankly, we’re damned lucky to still have him at all. We’re blessed that he still knows us, loves us, laughs with us, and can still talk to us.

He was so excited to hear his granddaughter play scales on the piano. He kept looking at us and giving us thumbs up with his gappy-toothed smile. “She’s good.” he kept insisting.

As I worked on the new landing page for Mort, writing the story that lead to the creation of the strip, it became important to me to note that amidst the health issues, doctor visits, and loss of independence for my father came walks in the dog park, camping trips, sunbathing on the back porch and family dinners. We managed to find laughter, love, and joy in the middle of that grief.

“For what is grief if not love persisting?” Right?

That line punched me in the stomach for a couple of reasons, one of which is because it reminds me why I love comics so damned much. I know it’s from a comic book movie, but still.

Love still persists here. Papa’s still here. Pieces of him at least, for a little while longer.

And I am grateful.