Like so many, I traveled on Sunday to make a visit that is not made often enough. My father isn't that far away, now - just a couple hours' drive - but I will admit we do not travel that road with the frequency I'd imagined when he moved to Texas. I think I'll be adding it to my calendar as a Must Do.
Someone brought all the old photos along which was very wise - the usual familial sqaubbling was avoided as we laughed at and talked about the old homes, antique clothes, and of how "gee, mom, you were PRETTY". Yeah. I smiled at that as my sister gasped in mock indignation.
My father watched us all, keeping up the conversation as is his skill - a raconteur of sorts and a natural showman. One could almost feel the cruel twist of time in his heart...how many more of these will he be allowed to see? How much longer can he continue with the small defribrillator maintaining his tick tocking? Its presence is always subtle but announced with every hug of his slender frame, that small, hard box just under his skin and always right where a daughter will place her hand to reach for a kiss. My flinch is unavoidable as I snatch my hand away, terrified the smallest pressure will be his undoing.
The photos of him in his youth were what captivated me. He was strong, a gymnast, and had that gruff Germanic nature that declared one must THINK, damn it. But it has always been muffled with that innate jester - the musician, the actor - that would prefer to play. No need to grow up, not just yet...and even with that tiny metronome in his chest ticking out his hours, he will still cling to those ways...
I looked at images like this one and wished I'd been born earlier in the pack, to have had more of him than I had before his Peter Pan needs supplanted that of fatherhood. He must have been quite the sight to my mother, small town creature that she was. How he must have stood like a tall wave pushing her to new shores...
No matter - I always knew. He gave me my words. He gave me my strength. He made me what I am even when he wasn't there. I owe him a great deal for that.
A long drive now and then seems a pittance against it.