Life is so confusing these days.
Once I determined that today is the day, I began to spend time with my dad. True, he's been dead since the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and that Saturday occurred twelve years ago, but he was a big presence in life and, it seems, that continues in the after life, too.
He was watching me schlep pots from the front to the side of the columns in the backyard. It was a mindless, heavy, sweaty chore, a chore he'd have delighted in doing for me. It didn't matter to him that I spent hours in the gym every day; when this kind of thing needed doing, he was the go-to guy. I laughed at myself as I grunted and dripped and wiped perspiration on my shirtsleeve; I had the same motions he did.
Funny how those things live on in the memory banks.
I watched a video of FlapJilly giggling as SIR blew raspberries on her neck, and I knew that Daddooooo was behind those air explosions. He was a lot rougher than his grand-son-in-law, but the reaction of the girls on the receiving end didn't vary much from Little Cuter to her own daughter.
Activities just this side of rude were his forte. Kids knew it, and loved it. He was a co-conspirator of the highest order. I wish he were here to play spouting whale with FlapJilly in the pool. Gross and riotous all in the same expulsion of pool water, there was never a dull moment when he was around.
I smiled at the mailbox which adorned my ancestral manse and which now sits on the wall of my potting shed, holding nothing of great importance inside but memories and a satisfying clunk as the lid lands. Brother and I fought over who would take it home, proving that the most important keepsakes are not always the most financially valuable.
I'm limping less, and so I look less like he did. The hiking of the hip, the swaying of the torso, the grimace on my face all reminded my siblings of our father. Though I am not sorry to see my limp disappear, I do miss the connection to my dad. I wish I had been kinder to him about it.
I don't have many other regrets, though. I was there for him when he needed me, I consoled him when he wanted to get out of the hospital and home to his own bed, I listened to him bitch and moan about everyone and everything as his life drew to a close, and the last words I said to him were Daddy, I love you.
Would that he were here to share the glint of mischief in FlapJilly's eyes. Would that he had lasted to meet SIR, a man with whom he could share home repair hints and the love of Little Cuter. Would that he were here to dissect Supreme Court cases and celestial discoveries with my son, my son who called him every winter morning one year for this exchange:
Hi, Daddooooo. I'm wearing shorts, it's 70 degrees, and I'm biking to school. What's it like in New York?
You rotten kid! It's minus 15, there's ice on the ground, and we haven't seen the sun in days.
HA HA HA HA HA!!!! I love you, Daddoooooo.
I love you too, kiddo.Me, too, Daddy. Me, too, indeed.