Past and present: requiem and ode

June 14, 2008 at 8:10 pm | Posted in little bug, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I spent my first Mother’s Day as a mother frantically finishing my final law school paper, while my own mother and daughter buzzed about in the background.  I have a bit more time to reflect on Father’s Day — a Hallmark holiday of ties and golf clubs and grills, but one I nevertheless find poignant.  I haven’t had a father to celebrate father’s day with for nine years. Father’s Day 1999 was a hot, muggy one in D.C. — I remember the silencing heat as much as anything else.  My sister and I sat in the loudly air-conditioned townhouse watching my dad drift in and out of morphine consciousness.  I actually haven’t thought about that day in years — it was horrible, and it’s difficult for me to write about.  I remember my dad staggering outside to watch the dog (whose name I can’t even remember:  I’m still aghast that he went ahead and got a dog in the first place) race up and down the back alleyway in the stifling heat, as he feebly called out “Good boy!” and wondered aloud if the dog would miss him.  But no one really thought he’d have just two weeks left.

Father’s Day was always forced for me — a time to supposedly celebrate a relationship that was far from easy.  One that mostly made me more unhappy than happy.  I’ve read so many times that, psychologically, a young girl’s most important relationship is with her father, and how true that was for me.  As a small child I idolized my father:  his pitch-perfect baritone, his intelligence, his skinny, bony knees, the scent of cigarette smoke on his starched collars, his jet-black hair. I relished the days I’d take the bus into NYC with him; I would color under his desk on the back side of legal documents and every so often his secretary would take me up to the cafeteria for a Coke. I relished the hot August days on Cape Cod Bay sandbars and the Saturday mornings he’d be home (before going back to the office, natch) to make us pancakes on an electric, plug-in griddle.  I like to remember those days the most.

And this Father’s Day, I will, grounding them with new memories of a father as in love with his little girl as I hope my dad was with me.  A father who crawls around on the living room floor, chasing his chubby, dimpled baby.  A father who gets up every morning wants to be the one to lift his smiling daughter from her crib with a big “Hi Buggy! Hi Angel!”, and then brings her into the bed to snuggle with me before making her breakfast (“Would you like apple-meal today? Or banana-meal?” referring to his special concoction of baby oatmeal and fruit.)  A dad who bundles up his baby and carts her off to “swim lessons” (which actually consist of a bunch of babies and dads, singing “The Wheels on the Bus” in a circle in the B.U. pool) every Saturday for his self-termed “Daddy-daughter day.”  A father who reads to his baby with patience, makes up silly songs, and will look at me seriously over one of our few-and-far between dates a deux at a fancy restaurant and say, “Isn’t she the most beautiful baby in the world?” A father who supports his child’s mother as she juggles her family through school and work. 

Ironically (or perhaps not so much so?), Tim looks at times strikingly and hauntingly like my dad:  the black hair streaked with silver, the crinkley eyes, the dimples.  And watching him with my daughter is a conduit to those really, really good memories of my own father.  For that I am so grateful. 

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