You know when you’re so close to someone, you can predict their thoughts, their words, their menu choices? When you can have an entire conversation with them just in your head, and know exactly how they’ll react to what you say, the facial expression they’ll make as they speak, and you will be exactly right…
I never had that with my father.
I was 20 years & 4 days old when he died on Halloween 13 years ago. I was still a child, complete in my childish way of dealing with his illness: disappearing from the family home for days at a time, unwilling to face the slow deterioration of my hero, the man I adored above all. I was still a child in how I viewed the world, in my thought process, in everything about me.
I never held an adult conversation with my father.
I never will.
At this point, he’s been gone for over 1/3 of my life.
I barely remember the sound of his voice, or his scent… his face is even a bit blurry if I don’t concentrate. I don’t remember the finer things about him; how his hand felt in mine when I was a child, walking hand in hand; his cologne; his smile is even elusive in my memory.
I do remember how he liked his eggs, though. I remember him cooking for me, much the way I cook for my friends. I remember the elaborate parties he and my mother threw for their friends, and I know certain personality flaws and quirks I have, I can attribute directly to how he raised me.
Part of why I write about food is because of him. It brings me closer to him, even when I can’t remember the exact shade of his eyes – or even his hair, because lord knows his vanity forced him to dye it repeatedly towards the later years.
I share my food memories with y’all not just for you, but largely, selfishly, for me… to try to hold onto part of my life that will never happen again, that I will never be able to touch again.
When people learn that my father died, they frequently ask if we were close. I generally answer yes, because that begins to express the deep sorrow that I felt after he passed. But the honest answer is no, we were not close. I was a child, he was an adult. There was a great divide between who he was and who I was at the time… but now that I’m an adult, who I’ve become is very close to who he was.
Even though I can’t predict what he’d say were I to have a conversation with him today – and oh, how I wish I could, because there have been so many times I’ve wanted to ask him questions! – I would say now…
Now, we are close.
I miss you, Dad. It never gets easier, it only seems to get harder… but I miss you.