“Your father would love this,” my mother remarked as she nodded to the craziness occurring in the dining room. I nodded in agreement. We were cleaning dishes and listening to my oldest son, youngest daughter and her best friend abuse each other. It was a perfect night. Cold, windy and snow-covered outside; music playing, wood-stove burning hot and laughter galore inside. The house smelled great and our bellies were full. My Taco Tuesday feast (a day late) of Tacos, Quesadillas, homemade Spanish Rice, and Guacamole was a hit.
Mom was right, Dad would have enjoyed seeing this. He worked his whole life to build a home like this to retire in, entertain his friends and spoil his 6 Grandchildren. It is a true goddamn shame that he would not see this come true. We didn’t get together nearly as often as he, and I, would have liked. Shit happens and time flies. My situation did not allow me to come up. A difficult work schedule, a young family and a wife who resisted coming up (too buggy, too far, too much time in the car, I can’t sleep up there, and I’m too much of a rigid bitch to give you what you want) caused time to slip away far too fast. By the time our schedules freed up a little, Dad was sick and visits became difficult. By difficult, I mean it was hard to watch. I barely held it together, but the children had a visibly hard time with it. The once virile, humorous and incredibly active man was transforming into a shell of his former self. It was not unlike seeing the air escape a balloon in slow motion. It became increasingly difficult for him to go out of the house, he had a hard time getting in and out of cars, and once he couldn’t drive, any optimism he had was out the window.
The good and bad memories of my father surround me. His influence is everywhere. Pictures on the mantle, the flag handed to me at his funeral by a grateful nation, the hand made furniture are good ones. The safety rails in the bathroom and the disassembled handicap ramp in the back yard are not. I remember once, when he had a caretaker at the house, I walked by the bathroom and Dad was on the toilet. He needed to be wiped. I asked him if he wanted my help even as I realized that I had never thought of wiping my father’s ass for him. I also never envisioned a day he would need me to. Dad couldn’t talk but he mouthed the name “Arthur” (the caretaker) and I went to get him. I knew then that the last thing Dad wanted was for me to wipe him, he was embarrassed that I saw him like that. That was a tough day.
Still, I remember the few times that we did get together as a family. Fond memories of him manning the grill, making a campfire, toasting marshmallows, playing with the grandkids, having dinner and playing phase 10 after, these are all great memories.
Yes, he would have loved to be here tonight. I would love for him to be here as well. He really left us too soon. I really want to believe that he is here, somewhere in this house, enjoying the laughter and keeping a careful eye on us.
Miss you big guy