Sunday, June 21, 2009

Favorite Dad Moments

1. The first favorite dad moment that comes to mind is when he explained the menstrual cycle to me. I was a budding "tween," and er, had a question, and my mom was out, so I went to the second adult in charge of the house with my question. I had already been briefed on what I was to expect in the coming years, but I didn't expect this change to come so early. And while my mom was out. And while my dad and brother were content in their boy-lands playing Nintendo in the other room.
I have to commend my dear father for explaining the mestrual cycle to me in such clinical terms. I remember standing in the hallway between the kitchen and dining room, which is probably where I ambushed the poor man with my question. Mary, our housekeeper at the time, who spoke English, was hanging around, wiping the counters ever so quietly as she listened in on this embarrassing scene of a little girl who may or may not have taken the first steps in becoming a woman.
My dad used all the scientific words: uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, "every 28 days." All Greek to me. There was no emotion in our little chat, either. So when my dad excused himself to go back to boy-land and play Nintendo with my six-year-old brother (who I'm sure he was relieved to think that he will never ask him period questions), I was left with Mary the housekeeper who had been stifling herself all this time, and gave me a big hug saying, "You're a woman now!" I was still processing the science lesson my dad had just given me, and hoping my mom would come home soon.
2. It was my 14th birthday, and as it happened every year, it fell on Spring Break, so I was never in school for my birthday. My dad, the serial car buyer that he is, had decided that today is the day we go to the Island (South Padre) and purchase this Winnebago he'd seen in the papers. I saw this as an opportunity to 1.) Perhaps convince my dad to take me to the beach and/or 2.) Get him to take me to the Dairy Queen in Port Isabel for a sundae or something. I didn't get my way, but I do remember having a surprisingly good time watching my dad negotiate the price of this Winnebago -- a magnificent, giant machine with blue interior and no power steering or A/C. I believe he got away with paying $650 for it. Kind of an anti-climactic story, but still a nice memory.
3. My grandmother died when I was about seven or eight years old. I was moderately unaffected by this event -- the only things that were on my mind at the time were that the whole family was coming into town and that I was so, so scared to go to the funeral. I was petrified that they were gonna make me look at the dead body.
Anyway, my dad was sitting at the dinner table, just kind of relaxing with a cigarette. Maybe he was waiting for a snack or something, I don't remember. Now that I think of it, he was probably waiting for nothing and reflecting because afterall, his mother had just died. But he flagged me down and said he wanted to explain something to me.
He took out a tall, empty glass and a saucer plate and said, "You know, Mom just died. ("Mom" is what we called that particular grandmother.) You know what happens when someone dies?" He took a drag from his cigarette and blew the smoke into the glass and turned it upside down onto the saucer plate.
He said, "The body quits working, but your soul is still there. It doesn't have a place to live anymore, so the soul leaves the body and finds a new home." Then he turned the glass full of smoke right side up and we watched the smoke slowly leave the glass. I don't remember if he said anything about God or heaven -- I think he let me come to my own conclusions about that.
4. I was in high school, and we lived in a house I fondly recall as the "Sunshine House" (because it was on Sunshine Road). It was late in the evening and my dad was going out the front door for some reason to take out the trash or something and I followed him out. I must have been in the middle of telling him something.
We continued the conversation outside for a minute or two. When it was done, he looked up and said, "Do you hear that?" It was a bird singing -- not chirping aimlessly, but truly singing. We thought it was strange because it was night time, and the song was so melodic and lonely that we just stood there for a few minutes and listened to this bird. He had this bemused look on his face the whole time, as if we'd just experienced something rare and beautiful. This might be my favorite dad moment.

Happy Father's Day.


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