Pater familiar.Posted: June 17, 2012
I used to conceive of Heaven as a never-ending drive with my father. We spent many hours in the car together, going back and forth from Wellesley. Every time he dropped me off, I cried because I missed him terribly; every time he picked me up, I was usually crying over a love object I wouldn’t see over the summer. But with the driving, I would calm down. We’d stop at rest stops and get breakfast sandwiches, a treat we’d first discovered at swim meets, and over the years, had become a sort of magic talisman fetish object. Breakfast sandwiches make everything Good. Then we’d get back on the road. We’d be silent, and then talk, and be silent again. We’d put on tapes of A Prairie Home Companion. Pennsylvania turned into New England, and back again. Dark trees and vistas.
Every Father’s Day, I freeze up, because every year, I find there’s more and more to say. More to thank my father for. More stories to tell him. More questions to ask him about Mom. If I were to write him a letter, the letter would be as long as my life.
We’ve been having breakfast together on the patio at Chatham Marketplace while his sweetheart Pam does errands. We get breakfast sandwiches and spend a couple hours in our idioverse. Last time, I told him about the play I was writing, and he said, “Did you know I wrote a play once? Where all of the parts of my mind, named with Greek letters, were in dialogue with each other. I think Julie has it.”
Well, no, I did not know that, in between teaching religion and folklore as a college professor, playing in a bluegrass band, writing poetry every morning, tending a garden, taking care of Mom, and raising five children, he also wrote a play, but thank you for supplying me with yet another chunk of my Very Being.
I love you, Dad.