Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Longest Day Of The Year



I miss my dad. Not in the intense way I imagined I would, being a daddy's girl, the kind that followed him around and hung on his every word. Mostly, I think it's because I don't believe he's dead. I know it, of course -- there's an urn of his ashes containing what was left of his body (not much according to the mortician -- teeth and a small bit of what is referred to as human remains) and it's been almost five years since his plane crash. That knowledge has settled like a body at the bottom of a lake, and I avoid the lake altogether. But bodies rise given the right temperature.

Father's Day has always been fraught for me or comic, given my propensity for dating older men. Have a fabulous Father's Day, one well-meaning waitress said to a then-boyfriend. Your daughter is beautiful! Or take another restaurant that was offering free chocolate cake to all dads and offered some to another beloved. When he declined, she asked if I wanted some of my dad's cake. I declined as well, having sampled "daddy's" cake for a while by that point. Moments like these spare me the deep sadness even an artificial holiday can evoke. Recently, my dad's last dog died. It suddenly hit me that he will never have another. She'd been sick for a few months and in her last days, she'd been hand-fed and lethargic. An avid bunny killer, she'd given up the chase and her old victims came within feet of her as if to say goodbye to their nemesis. She died in the yard, and my sister and I rolled her body into an old blanket and put her in the trunk of the car for that final trip to the vet, the term dead weight coming to mind. She weighed as much as I do. If Dad were alive, he would have taken care of her for the final time and as tender-hearted as he was, would have cried over her instead of sweating and cursing like I did. I once had a friend who delighted in upsetting people by giving them some theological explanation of how pets would not exist in Heaven. What Bible verse she used, I forget. I can't imagine what the next life will be, pets or no. Once someone sent me a postcard with a single question, asking what Heaven might be like. He was very ill at the time which lent a poignancy to the question otherwise best reserved for freshman year late-night dorm discussions. One of the last places I went with my dad was Graceland. We saw everything, even the planes. I refuse to ever return, despite the invitation of more than one person. It's reserved in my heart for my dad even if he would want me to go back. When I turned on my Ipod party shuffle today, Paul Simon's "Graceland" was the first song I heard. Of course, you could chalk this up to coincidence, but why would you want to? Unlike my friend who didn't believe pets could go to Heaven, I'm willing to entertain any notion and hope that my dad and his faithful companion are reunited and all the sadness of this earthly life seems as if a dream.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"No greater grief than to remember days of gladness when sorrow is at hand." Friedrich von Schiller

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Your Inner Housewife Caitlin Flanagan

Bendictions and Maledctions
Happy Father's Day!

8 comments:

The Non Stop Shoebox said...

I miss my dad. It's been 38years. He was a genius with dogs: they knew he was the boss and adored him, even though most had only met him the once.
As a kid I thought this was what all dad's had.

jodi said...

Sweety, Cool pic! Here's remembering your Dad and all of our Dad's today. Oh, and a priest once explained to me after a death of a pet, that heaven is just what you want it to be. And if you hope to reunite with your pet--you will.xo

Charles Gramlich said...

Very poignent. My father has been gone for 37 years now. I think more about him in April at the time of his death, than I do at this holiday. In those days you didn't celebrate father's day.

Phil said...

My dad always had Scotties, and whenever I'd go to Perrysburg to visit, I'd approach the back porch and the first thing I'd hear would be the dog barking, then my dad opening the door. The porch has been quiet for over 4 years now, but I still expect the bark when I visit my mom.

Very nice piece, not maudlin, just the right touch.

the walking man said...

Somehow Michelle you make it right. Being among the castaway found objects put to use in art becomes as fine a home as any.

I don't think of my male parent nor do I miss him either...it has been a long long time since I last saw him. I'll always admit he had some good in him but he had plenty of mean too.

Dave said...

Beautiful essay, Michelle.

Anonymous said...

BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN MICHELLE. KIP

Scott said...

Michelle,

Very nice. If there aren't any pets in Heaven, I have no desire to go there.