Snapshots of My Father

Snapshots of My Father

When I think about my childhood, the memories play back to me as though I were watching a photo slide show on a Mac.  The images blend one into the other in no particular order, like water running over colored ink.  I float from 6 years old to 12 years old to 3 years old and back again.  Nothing is ever a full event, though.  I get an image, I remember a feeling or smell, and then, as Jay-Z would say, "it's on the next one".  Onto the next thought, the next memory, until something drags me back to the now.

With Father's Day being this weekend, I started thinking about moments with my dad, and the slide show began.  I remember every August, for my birthday, we would go to Lincoln Park Zoo in the morning and walk across the beach in the afternoon.  We lugged along some grape juice and PB&Js that I ended up eating covered in sand.  Those were the best birthdays, but the memory is not a fluid one - I see an image of the zoo and feel my dad's hand on mine - I then feel the hot pavement on the walk over to the beach, as I've already taken off my shoes in anticipation - and then the cool water washing up on my bare toes and the taste of crunchy jelly (sand) in my mouth.

In the next memory, I am 13.  I smell dirty leather cleats and a softball mitt and feel the wind blow dust in my eyes.  I glance to my right - 3rd base and an old chain link fence.  Fade into the next image - my dad, or Coach, in a purple jersey, eyebrows furrowed, fingers interlaced through the chain link fence.  "Just do your best, you guys are winners to me no matter what."  Then comes the next image - a sea of trophies held high by the un-manicured and dirty hands of 13-year old girls in purple t-shirts.

The final memory, I am 28.  There is the smell of fresh baked bread in my nose along with my dad's cologne - his "special occasion" cologne that is.  No Brut here, on my wedding day in Paris, France.  I remember the feeling - I get anxious just typing about it.  I hear, "just play it cool and take your time, there is no rush."  And off we go down the aisle.  Next scene - his face as a French birthday cake is brought out.  Camera ready, he thought it was another part of our wedding dinner, something special for the newly weds.  But since we were married on his birthday, we arranged for him to have a special treat too - raspberry sorbet cake.  I smell the tart fruit as the waiter whisks past my head (and my dress, thank goodness) to deliver the goods in front of my shocked father.  Clapping fills my head.  Final shot, back in Chicago at our reception - hot tears flow down my cheeks and I taste salt as my dad makes his speech to the audience.  He speaks of how lucky he is to have me, but in reality, I am the lucky one.  The hot pink lights behind us warm my shoulders....

If I were to pull together a photo album of the memories with my father, it would be days long.  He is the rock in my family, and I am so blessed to be able to say there was not a day in my life where he was not present.  Friends and cousins and co-workers have become better people just for knowing him.  How does one become so deserving to have such a man as their very own dad?  To even write about him in this blog does not do him justice.

In closing, my dad loves his camera and taking pictures is what he does.  He himself has 1000s of photos and hundreds of photo albums.  This is my present to him - a confesion that I've been keeping my own photos albums of him for years.  They just happen to be in my head, but I'm here to share for  all of Chicago-land to see.

Happy Father's Day, dad.  I love you.


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