My father, 82-year-old Royston Fordham with dodgy knees, diabetes and a pacemaker, is flying from England to California this coming weekend. Then he will be going to concerts in Santa Barbara, San Juan Capistrano, Washington DC, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
His other daughter, singer/songwriter Julia Fordham, is performing with Paul Reiser to promote their CD, Unusual Suspects. Dad said how he'd love to go on the road with her again, so Julia replied: "Why don't you?"
As well as being a top actor and comedian, Paul is a classically trained pianist and composer. He said he was thrilled Dad was coming along. Not only do they already get along famously, but it also fits in with Paul's road routine. He said, "I always travel with octogenarians. Walking side by side through airports, it makes me look deceptively peppy and spry."
Apart from Dad not liking the heat and a heat wave is forecast, needs endless cups of tea and consequent bathroom breaks, the tour should go swimmingly. He also likes to chat. Like most singers, Julia tries not to talk on gig days. Well, that's not going to happen and I won't be going to the New York or Washington gigs to act as a diversion.
Dad also has a habit of gleefully reading out loud every street sign he passes. It's rather sweet and endearing at first, but it can get on your last nerve after half an hour. My husband was going to drive us all up the coast to San Francisco, but has asked that we fly now, as he would rather be strip-searched by Homeland Security than listen to Dad give a running commentary for 383 miles each way.
The good thing is that it's an adventure. And adventures don't happen too often for elderly parents. Dad knows this latest renewal of his passport could well be the final one, and seems almost relieved that he probably won't have to decorate the dining room again. Mum, who's sitting this trip out at home, told me just the other day where they keep their will and important papers, and how she wants Julia's song "Hallelujah" played at her funeral.
I guess when you're 78 and 82 and go to friends' funerals most weeks, you start thinking about such things. I try not to imagine the end, but when it comes, I hope they go quickly and painlessly like Dad's golfing pal, Arthur Hall, who fell asleep in his chair and never woke up.
There's no doubt keeping active and having things to look forward to will boost Mum and Dad's chances of living to a riper old age. Of course, good genes, sensible diet, regular exercise, a pacemaker, blood thinners and access to my and Julia's air miles will help keep them going strong.
Dad says this visit will be his last hoorah. But his eyes lit up when I suggested he come with me on a trip to Fiji to meet his first great-grandchild. I know they did, because I saw them on Skype.
For more details about Julia Fordham and Paul Reiser's tour: http://juliafordham.com/tour