Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day



Seven years ago the scene in my kitchen was love and laughter sprinkled with excitement and adventure. I had just turned 32, your grandchildren were 10 and 8 1/2 years old. They were still young enough that cooking was mysterious...amazed that simple ingredients turned into mouth-watering deliciousness...and sending packages in the post was even more mysterious. Ashleigh said to me "you just put that little sticker on it and the mailman knows where to drive it to?" They tested those cookies we baked...the interesting combinations...walnut peanut butter chip and white chocolate cinnamon. Unusual and perfect for you. They labeled the bags in their precise grade-school penmanship and packaged them with care, insisting that we include some of the cherries from the trip to the Farmer's Market that morning. I sent it overnight mail and when you got them, we laughed about how the cookies came in crumbs...delicious crumbs!

We were planning a camping trip to the redwoods in a couple of months' time, emails flying back and forth and anticipation building daily. I had no clue that it was to be my last Father's Day with you. I had no clue that in a month's time you would be gone and the Redwoods would still be waiting. I had no clue that the memories we were making that day in the kitchen over your cookies would become so bittersweet.

Our history is fragmented but each piece of the puzzle was necessary for us to put together such a lovely picture in the end. I spent the first three years of my life adoring you, the next 15 pining for you followed by 11 resenting and rejecting you...coming full circle to the last three adoring you once again.

I'm so glad you never gave up, despite my sometimes harsh words and judgmental attitude. You taught me that patience and tenacity, you know. That and so much more. You came into your art late in life, paving the way for me to do the same. You used your words generously, intelligently while humbly allowing room for mistake...laughing at yourself before anyone else could. I follow your lead daily. You walked through this life at your own rhythm, being human and allowing that the guidelines for how to live a "right" life were simply that, guidelines. You were brave with your scars, making them visible as much as possible...knowing that the effort it took was what would save your life every day. You allowed me to come into your life as a mostly formed adult and when you fell in love who I was, I fell in love with me too. I hope it was the same for you. You strove to be simple in action but complex in mind. I see you in your grandchildren and know that I am teaching them your gifts. They were many, those gifts...and I miss you every day. I see you a sunrise or how the wind sounds...when the moths hatch each year or when I see a Golden Retriever...especially one that knows how to smile. Mostly I feel you. I know when you're laughing at me and it makes me comfortable in my own skin. I know when you're rolling your eyes and pushing me to lighten up. I usually do, don't I? There are a million things that let me know you're here and today I'll be dancing in my living room to Eric Burdon and the Animals...being lighthearted and grateful for those last three years...paying homage to you in the only way the feels right. By moving, being playful and letting the past guide the moment.

I miss you, Dad.