Well, They All Can’t be Chipper
I’m having a bit of a weird moment.
I keep noticing the underside of our kitchen cabinet, right above the refrigerator. When we got the fridge–a cute little tiny, retro-looking thing, if stainless steel can be retro–we had it delivered only to discover that it was too tall for the opening by about 1/4-inch. My dad, for some reason I can’t remember, was here at the time, and all I remember is him finding some sort of narrow saw thing, and voilà–our shiny new fridge suddenly completed our kitchen. Every time I wipe down the counter lately, or pour some coffee (both of which happen entirely too often in this household), or check the calendar, it’s there. I notice the ridges the sandpaper left behind, the small flakes of chipped paint, the rough color of the original wood because we never got around to repainting those cabinets. I keep seeing it, like when you buy a new car and for months all you notice when you drive are other versions of your car zipping along. It’s like my brain has developed a spotlight.
Over there, too, is the mark of my dad, in this cabinet, and on that shelf–basically anywhere you see contact paper in our house, my dad was the one who was in charge of that project when we first moved in. He had the patience for the job. It was a way he could help while we unpacked and ran to Lowe’s and wondered how the heck we were ever going to buy enough furniture to fill this house (bwahahahaha! To think we ever actually had too much space in here).
There’s the dent in the hardwood from when he dropped a knife while putting together some piece of furniture. It drives me nuts when I see it–it’s a long, narrow gash that mocks me whenever I vacuum over it, but it means he was there once, sitting on the IKEA cafe chair that served as our dining room set, wielding a hammer and box cutter. He was here.
I don’t know what it is that’s got me all reflective-like. Actually, yes I do. The holidays are approaching, quickly. It’ll be yet another Christmas where my mother gives gifts signed with her name only. It’ll be a exactly a year, too, since we lost her mother–my only remaining grandparent, gone. David’s dad, also deceased. The ghosts of all we’ve lost surround me, it seems. I’m moving along with their shadows flanking each side, but when I look around, nothing’s there.
David and I are talking more about looking for a new house. A large part of me doesn’t want to move yet, because I really like the idea of having a smaller home while the kids are young–they’re easy to chase here, and if someone takes a chunk out of the wall with her doll’s stroller when she’s having a toys-on-wheels drag race with her sister, well, I don’t get too upset about it. But I realize, too, that when we move, that’s it. This’ll be the last home we own that’s been known to my dad. David’s dad. My grandmother. It’s weird, isn’t it? That lives move on, children grow, people change, even when those who’ve left us aren’t here to help witness it all?
As I said. I’m having a bit of strange moment. What strikes me is that my dad always frustrated me by getting involved in my life–he was always “helping,” and advising me how to do things, and stepping in, when I was just setting out on my own and all I wanted to do was figure it out without help, do it myself, try and fail if I must but give it a solid go. And now that he’s not here, well. You know how it is. Perspectives change. I laugh sometimes when I think about what he’d have been like watching us raise our children. I stand back a lot with my girls. It’s the teacher in me who wants them to try to figure stuff out on their own before I step in. Would he approve? Would he give me suggestions? And what would he think about two little kids climbing all over him, anyway?
Every night we say prayers with Saoirse, and we always make sure to ask God to tell Grandad (that’s my dad), Pop-Pop (David’s) and Grandmom (mine again) that we love them. This is now rote to SK, and she says it herself. These are the people she’s known, if only very briefly. She was two months old when my dad died, and only met David’s dad once. And yet I feel like they’re a part of her world as much as any of us who are still living. I have to. They were such a huge part of mine.
I guess that won’t stop as much as I’m afraid once we change some more, or the kids grow, or we move houses. You figure out how to keep their lives with you, I guess. But gosh, I don’t know who’s going to do the contact paper the next time around. I just don’t have the patience.