When my dad was alive, he asked me about my day…every day. He asked about my classes, my teachers and my homework. He listened attentively and got to know each of my friends through the stories I told. He wanted me to read my essays and papers out loud to him. We talked about news, politics, actors, books and any other topic that struck us. Ironically, though, in the final days of his life, I hated talking. I sat in his hospital room reading, staring out the window, acting every bit the bratty teenager I was at that time, and doing my best to answer each and every one of his questions with one-word answers, hoping we could just stop talking.
So, maybe my conversations now with my dad help me relinquish the guilt I held on to for so long after he died. Maybe I’m attempting to capture lost time and lost conversations. Maybe I feel like he actually hears me and that comforts my heart. Maybe I feel like I can tell him things that I can’t otherwise verbalize to any other soul. Maybe I’ll just always be Daddy’s little girl. Whatever the reason, or combination of reasons, I am always drawn to his side during the best and worst periods of my life and so many occasions in between. When I’m there, I’m home. It’s like I’m back sitting at the foot of his old recliner. I talk, he listens and for just that small period of time, I feel like nothing else matters. Time slows down, my thoughts come pouring out and I feel completely blanketed in safety and calmness. I really also feel as though he’s talking back, too. I can hear the questions he would ask, the way he would challenge some of my notions and the pride he would feel in being my greatest confidante.
Every year, shortly before Christmas, I deliver a holiday bouquet to my dad’s grave site. Then, a few weeks later for his birthday, I retrieve the Christmas arrangement and swap it out for flowers for his birthday, a shot of Jim Beam (his favorite) and a steaming cup of black coffee. Today, January 11, is my dad’s birthday, so he and our annual tradition are at the forefront of my mind. I probably won’t visit until the weekend, though, so that I have plenty of time to spend there, setting the stage for another interesting year of conversations. 2011 is already making my head spin. I can’t imagine what this year will bring and what scenarios will draw me to talk to my dad. No matter what this year holds, I know that my thoughts are held in confidence and shared in love at the one place that always feels safe.
Incidentally, I know that as disjointed as this post is, my dad would love that I used him as the inspiration and catalyst to sit and write again. This blog has been empty for far too long, although many thoughts and conversations have been unfolding. I hope that through my talks with my dad, I’ll also be able to put my thoughts together more this year to capture them here.