Things We Should Commemorate On This Day

072715My father, who would have been 77. He would have been 77, but never quite made it all the way to old. Hard to imagine him grayer, balder, thinner, still swimming in the apartment complex pool in the mornings, still bickering with the neighbors. My father, who inched toward happiness and then tumbled backwards again. There were so many ways to understand how he lived those last few years, but perhaps the most real is to say he made me a wreath in a craft class, a tiny gold and burgundy wreath that the ladies helped him with, a small wreath with a big bow at the bottom. My father gave me a wreath, offered it with a shrug layered with pride and for a long time I hung it in front of my house, a little circle on the big brick wall of our fireplace. For his 70th birthday he received his first grandson, Ian, who turns 7 today, another thing we should be commemorating. So for Ian we took this goofy selfie and sent it through the sky to him and received back a photo in which his eyes have their wise gentleness and a smear of chocolate cake darkens his cheek.

July 27, 2015

Hat

050415This is my father’s hat. The one he wore to my wedding with his light blue Goodwill suit. The one that hangs on my closet door beside my belts. The one that is my most regular reminder of him. He died four years ago today — a lifetime, a blink of an eye — in a south San Antonio nursing home in the room at the end of a long hallway. His death seemed to set off a series of deaths — his cousin, his sister, Chris’s own father. Loss upon loss. In all my existential ponderings, I have no answers. What it means that my father is gone. How I know him now in ways I didn’t know him then. What remains. But I have his hat, its pale plaid, yellowed brim, and I remember that he wore it well.

May 4, 2015