Every time I smell beef and onions cooking I think of my dad. He used to make a pot roast on Sundays which to my kid self, was like a big bucket of perfectly good potatoes stunk up with unnecessary meat juice. But still, the house felt so warm and comfy when it simmered. You’d think today, as an adult vegetarian, I’d be grossed out by the smell of cooking beef. But no. It still makes me feel safe, like I did when my dad was home. I remember the lid on his pot had some kind of pressure valve so that it would make little spraying noises in a rhythm that sounded like an old diesel engine – which is another thing that reminds me of my dad. He has bought and sold cars as long as I’ve known him, which is 32 years. Three of those years we didn’t speak and after a very unfortunate series of recent events, it looks like we’re back in that boat. We haven’t spoken since April.
Today is of course Father’s Day. My kids colored cards for my husband and we celebrated with a big pancake breakfast this morning. Right now as I type I’m watching my girls hug and kiss their dad. It’s such an easy thing to take for granted. All those Sundays my dad read the cartoons to me (changing “jug head” to “jug haid”) and fixed me special bowls of potatoes plucked out of the pot roast, it never occurred to me that we’d ever be in such a bad place that we would sit in silence across a court room. When he opened up his checking register to explain how bills work (making my eight-year-old self feel nine feet tall) or helped me build my “collapsible hanger” invention for school or let me do his hair with mousse I never thought there would be a time when he might testify against me in court.
But here we are.
I miss my dad. Unfortunately there’s a matrix of insanity between us and mine and my dad’s relationship is collateral damage in sealing off a long-simmering poison for good. Sometimes pain is a fact of life. Ironically, that is a lesson my dad taught me.
My advice to most people in an estranged situation would be to just pick up the phone. Life is short. Grudges aren’t healthy. Unless you see a mushroom cloud billowing out of the earth, it ain’t over. But for that small bunch of us for whom it is that complicated, stay strong and do what you have to do. Not everyone around you is going to understand. You don’t need to explain yourself. All we can do is our best for our children and never, ever let anything come between us and them so that on some far off Father’s Day of the future, the phone at our house will ring.
Happy Father’s Day dad, wherever you are.
Filed under: Memory Lane