This one is for family. If you’ve never known loss, you might not understand. If you have, I am so very sorry. And this one is also for you.
I survived another Father’s Day by taking my son to a new pizza joint.
(New to us. Maybe you’ve heard of it?) It’s located across from Target’s ginormous parking lot in Grandville, MI.
Herb & Fire Pizzeria is a stand-up joint, and by that, I mean you order you pizza at a counter and then wait for your name to be called to go pick it up. Still, it makes a pretty decent pie with a nice variety of toppings for such a small establishment.
I spent Father’s Day mostly oblivious to the holiday, until it came time for dinner. Then, eureka! I remembered I had an excuse to go out for pizza. To commemorate my late husband’s favorite food.
As I wait in line to order my personal flatbread, keeping the starving teenager from pouncing on other people’s food, I can’t help but think about what it’s like to no longer celebrate Father’s Day.
My father died in 2015 at the age of eighty-six; he’d had a good run. He’d been a decent dad, despite his likelihood of being on the same spectrum as his grandson. He wasn’t perfect, but he’d loved me in his own way.* I mourned him probably more than he would have expected. And it certainly hit me harder than I realized it would.** I still get teary-eyed at the sight of coleslaw. (You’ll have to visit a dismembered memory to get that joke.)
My husband died when my son was just a toddler. Our son likely has no memory of his father, beyond the photos now hanging throughout our house. I get sad sometimes, angry others, that he will never really know what Anthony was like. It is a bitter pill that always burns when I swallow it. But I do try to tell him how he is like his father.
Whenever he laughs, in a room by himself, for no apparent reason other than something has made him happy. He is his father’s son.
This week, Booger Meister made up his own jokes. He would say, ‘April’ and the follow it rapidly by the word ‘November.’ And then hoot like a mad owl at how funny he found that juxtaposition. He tried pairing up the rest of the calendar in odd assortments, but nothing was nearly as funny as ‘April’ and ‘November.’ I would repeat each of his utterances, trying to convince him, that, “No, it’s June.” Stubbornly he would refuse to acknowledge that I was right.
He is so much his father’s son. He orders the same pepperoni pizza. He loves the same Doritos. He hates the same vegetables. And each freckle that appears like a star in a summer night’s sky, reminds me of the man who left us so unexpectedly fourteen years ago. I can trace the constellations his dna left behind, measuring the memories of the past, living out in the present day.
There is sorrow in life. Sometimes there is too much sorrow and it breaks your heart.
But then, another day comes. A baby cousin is born. And even if he will not get to grow up knowing his father, he will live on…in his son’s laugh, or maybe his smile. We won’t know until he is a little older. But take your time, darling boy. Take your sweet time.
Watching Baby “A” and his older sister grow will surely help to heal the broken hearts his father left behind. And maybe they will have to learn to celebrate Father’s Day a different way, like we do.*** Part in memory, but always trying to live up to what we’ve lost. For the love lives on. Yes, the love lives on.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:
*If the song MY WAY had been written about my father, it would have involved more references to cheeseparing, miserly tendencies and the many uses of duct tape–including wrapping wedding gifts. (I kid you not!)
**In my family, we are a stoic lot descended from dour German pessimists. We aren’t what most people would call overly emotional–until we are–and then we tend to lose any claim to stiff-upper-lippedness.
***Remembering David will require dedicated study of game theory. Whether it is learning the jingling intricacies of the mysterious ‘Disk Golf’ or playing games of conquest using hexagonal cardboard tiles. We will make sure his children know of their father’s greatness. Maybe his son or daughter will have the same odd penchant for naming sheep ‘Phil’ during games of Settlers of Cataan. We can only hope.