Archive | 11:48 PM

Feel Sort of Good Friday … 5

29 Jan

Even though I’m baking a cake tomorrow I’m still heading to the pie place.

It’s got one of those rectangle signs that spins, looks like a vintage diner now, but would be rocking it during the bell-bottom era. A coffee place where Flo probably worked the counter.

I made a promise … but never got a chance to keep it. We’ll have a piece of pie, coffee and pie, and talk about life.

I found out they got 24 kinds of pies.

I’ll have some trouble choosing just one. I’m sure I’ll know it when I see it.

We were supposed to try some, but he never made it out of the hospital. So even though I’ll be making a special birthday cake, I’ll start with a slice of pie to celebrate what would have been his 73rd birthday, because I made a promise. And that’s the kind of stuff you remember, the little things that don’t seem so little now.

73.

That’s a pretty hefty number. The kind that comes with wisdom and life. I imagine the Big 7-0 comes with that too. You get to a point where you don’t care and you live your life with the lessons that got you there. Plus coffee. I imagine he’d be retired, or work less by now. He’d probably have more baseball caps.

73.

I get stuck between being sad and celebrating his life. I imagine it hits a lot of people like that, you miss your friend, but you’re glad he’s not in pain because of a stupid random disease. Celebrating life … I remember his aftershave, still have his last bottle. It’s small, made of glass, with white letters spread across the front. It’s got only about a quarter left. The orange liquid swirls as I pick it up and hold it to the light. The musky smell reminds me of his morning shaves with his blue Gillette razors. Don’t remember him cutting himself shaving, but I imagine he did. All guys do, at least once. But I never saw him with toilet paper on his face, trying to stop the bleeding. Come out fresh. Style his hair with mousse and a black comb, the kind you’d get a barber shop.

He’d walk down the stairs and struggle to put his shoes on, to which I’d say, c’mon ol’ man, to which now I completely understand considering my back injuries and how really difficult putting shoes on is when your body doesn’t fully cooperate. White collared shirt. White pants. Black shoes. Baseball cap. Samsonite briefcase. And two Parker Pens in his front shirt pocket. I need to get me some Parker Pens.

Breakfast?

Sometimes.

Running late. Sometimes not enough time for eggs, scrambled or sunny side up. Not enough time for black beans. For bagels and cream cheese. For oatmeal with raisins. For coffee. But never cereal.

He’d say bye and drive off in his truck. For a long time it was a gray Nissan pickup … stick-shift. Not many people know how to drive one of those now, I’m glad to say I learned, I messed up his clutch a couple of times, but eventually I got the hang of it and shifting between first and second got easier. He’d listen to jazz on the way to work and never honk his horn at the jerk that cut him off. He’d just shrug his shoulders and keep going.

Even after he left the house, the smell of his after shave filled up the space.

Daily routines of the working class man. Morning routines.

I see them at night when I’m sleeping and in the morning when I’m putting on my own shoes.

I try to fill my kids with stories about Papa and little details, like baseball hats and musk aftershave, like trouble putting on shoes because of his back, his laughter after one of my bad jokes because I didn’t want to get out of bed. These morning routine details stand out most. The details matter more, when you’re trying to remember someone. They help fill the picture with the missing pieces. So I paint the landscape of my dad’s life, with attention to the detail so they can really see him up close. They help me remember too. Celebrating his life, his moments. Got to hold on, to even the simplest of things … like a promise for pie.

So birthday cake and pie.

Buen Camino my friends …

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Miles Davis — Freddie Freeloader

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Happy Birthday Donald Duck

Juan Gabriel — Buenos Dias Senor Sol

Mavis Staples — The Weight

Vince Guaraldi Trio — Linus and Lucy

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