In a weird twist of irony, I had once started a short story (that I had planned on making into a novel) called "Dad, Remembered." I did not get far in the writing because at the time, I could not quite get myself into the mind set of the main character whose father had lost his memory. I say it is ironic because now, I find myself often remembering my Dad.
I admit, I do not engage in the thoughts which lead down the path of remembrance very often. For the most part, I am not a sentimental person about most things. However, there are certain people in my life (mostly family, a few friends) that can get my thoughts taking that sentimental journey.
It is almost Thanksgiving. Honestly, I don't remember much about last year's turkey day. For all I know, Dad had to work at T-A that day. He worked a lot. Partly because he had to, but also because I think he wanted to. Back then, he was removed from family events under his own doing. After he went to Iraq, I think he found the missing pieces and was ready to come home and start living life with and for his family. I can only guess at that based on what Mom has said about their emails and chats. I do know that he wrote to my kids often, and was always excited to tell them about the plans he had for when he got back.
I do remember Dad using the electric knife to cut up the turkey. Dad was not really a "carver" so much as a "slicer." Which worked out well for me, because I like my turkey a little thicker than most folks. Of course, I can picture him cussing at the turkey, or the knife, or the throw rug for that matter. Dad was a cusser, for sure. Not the F-bomb that I recall, but let's just say he and beavers had words in common. :-) Actually, now that I think about it, Dad pretty much cussed or yelled at no one in particular. He just sorta ranted until the job was done, and then look at you like you were from another planet if you asked him what he was cussing about. We later discovered some of that may have been Turretts. We just called it "Being Dad." :-)
Of course, after work (or before depending on the shift), he would join the festivities for a bite and some conversation. I think that is one of the things I miss most. He could talk about anything to anyone, even if he had no idea what he was talking about.
Shan and I recently found a mousepad in a catalog that is shaped like a putting green with a flag, balls, and a putter. Dad would have that it was "kewl." As I was going through some sports cards to sell on eBay, I came across the Mickey Mantle card I had bought to give him for Christmas. He often talked about the barrel of cards he had as a kid with all the "greats" in it, including Mantle. Well, during a move, the moving company "lost" the barrel, and Dad's card collection. He would tell me of the Mantle card he had, and when eTopps produced a Classic version of Mantle, I knew I had to get it for him. Now, it will find a safe place in my collection.
Dad was already in Houston, heading for Kuwait last Christmas, so in my mind, he was already "not here" for Christmas. But, he was here for Thanksgiving, and now he is not. John told me there would be a whole year of "firsts." I think I tried to rationalize, make things logical, or simply live in denial. He is right. These "firsts" are harder than anyone can tell you, warn you, or try to prepare you for. I know Dad is off somewhere doing his goofy "happy dance," but right now, the music that played only in his mind cannot be heard down here.... When it comes to this first Thanksgiving without him, there is no happy dance.
More than six months have passed since Dad died, and sometimes, it still feels like yesterday.