Seven years ago was the last time I spent Father’s Day with my Dad. I was in the middle of my divorce and we ate alone in a small pizzeria in the town where he lived. It was nothing special.
The first Father’s Day after he was gone, I spent the day by myself creating a magnificent garden in his memory. I moved pounds of slate and rock, my hands were dirty and my sneakers ruined. When I crawled in bed that night I was so exhausted that finally my body hurt more than my heart. As the years marched on, I thought it would hurt less. It did, but less was still a lot. This Father’s day the sun shined through the windows and the tears streamed down my cheeks, again.
Outside on the porch sipping my coffee, I thought what if. What if this year I could have one more Father’ Day with him. I imagined the day. The cell phone would be off. No interruptions. We would ride to the beach and walk on the sand. The cold water would run over our feet and the sun would feel the best it ever has, as it shined on our faces and warmed our bodies. I would hear each sentence he had to say, each word a melody, the most beautiful sound my ears had heard in seven years. I would ask him all the questions I never did.
Later I would cook his favorite meal. It wouldn’t be the extravagant dinner one would imagine. A big bowl of elbow macaroni and butter, his favorite. I wouldn’t be in a rush to end dinner, to get to the dishes, to clean the kitchen, to plan for tomorrow, or to go to bed. I would be at the table with him, in the moment, and there would be nowhere in the world more important to go. I would ask him to tell me his jokes that always made me laugh but that I could never remember. I would tell him that all the years of wishing he had done better, was more educated, had more money, meant nothing. He was the best father I could ever have asked for, his teachings were more valuable than many of the college classes I took, and having to work for what I had was the best lesson he ever taught me. I would tell him all those talks in the kitchen when I was a teenager paid off. I became the woman, wife, mother, and person he wanted me to be. I would tell him I loved him and that I knew he loved me, and knowing that has made all the difference.
I finished my coffee and thought what if I could write something that helped hundreds of others understand that this Father’s Day, this Mother’s Day, this anniversary, this birthday, this ordinary day might be the last they get to do all these very ordinary things. But what if I couldn’t, what if, I was only able to reach just one person? Then all the words on this paper would be worth their weight in gold.