I’m on my daily walk around the townhouse-lined streets of Georgetown. The trees are just about to bud, from drab to frothy green. The peat smell of fresh mulch, wet from last night’s rain, confirms it is finally spring. But this spring, for the first spring in my 53 years, I am fatherless.
I’m climbing the Whitehaven Street hill between 37th and 34th. And I start talking to Dad.
Are you there?
I haven’t felt you with me.
Like when Mardi died, I heard him for nights after rustling in the closet laundry pile like he did before bed.
And Beni. I felt him rest his soft chin on my ankle, on my foot dangling off the side of the bed. It was his way to wake me up to go out each morning. He was there for days after I literally sobbed myself sick when he died.
Where are you Dad?
Are you happy? Finally happy?
I have so much worry now. Can you help me?
Nothing new – just the same Top Five worries that have dominated my life, my every single waking moment.
My family – are they ok? Do I love them right, enough?
My weight – how fat am I now?
My finances – is there enough this day, this week, this month, this life?
My work – am I doing the right thing fast enough, good enough?
My home – is it beautiful and clean and organized and up to par?
I’m dumping Janet’s Top Five on you, Dad.
So selfish, as I know I can be. How can I ask you to now be my Fairy God Father? To grant me wishes or give me help? Or for anything?
I wasn’t loving to you all the time. You annoyed me. You frustrated me. You embarrassed me. You scolded me. You leaned across a table and spat at me because I voiced another opinion.
You once told me how you never felt accomplished. You said everything you touched turned to dust. Am I dust?
I didn’t always like you very much.
But I always loved you, and wanted you to love me. Not just love me. Show me you did.
So I’m going to stop asking for your help with the Top Five. It’s not fair to either of us. They never get resolved anyway, so I don’t want to set you up as the one not helping me out.
And I’m not going to expect some sign you loved me. Because I know you did but just couldn’t show me. If you couldn’t show me here in life, how can you now – wherever you are?
But I’m going to keep talking to you. Ask your advice. Tell you how Mom is. Share how beautiful spring is when you take a walk and pay attention. I never talked to you about this stuff before.
So sit back and settle in. We’ve got some catching up to do.