One of my favorite photographs is of my father and me. In the milieu, you can see the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, hued blue and sinking into the distance. My father and I look out onto the horizon, a foot apart, backs to the camera, and surveying the beauty of the day. I told him, “I love you, Dad.” And in his own mystical way, he just nodded—a man short of words in those kinds of moments.
When you get older, you: move away, go to school, gain relationships, find jobs, and get busy. Family becomes something you to refer to in the past tense, like now for instance. Phone calls over expanses of 1,500 miles become redundant and typical.
I owed my father a visit. Father’s Day would be the day, but I wouldn’t tell him. I made my plans aware to my brother and my step-mother and made them swear not to breathe a word.
On Father’s Day, I was standing in my father’s kitchen, the same kitchen I grew up in—very little had changed. Old, empty liquor bottles and glass insulators lined the windows facing south. The china cabinet, peeling yellow paint and layers of dust, housed dishes he’d probably never used but only collected. I called him on his cellphone and he was already in the yard, returned from a morning auction and a short trip to the grocery store. Service was spotty and he was frustrated. I heard the front door open and close, his feet sashayed through the living room. I was ready. He crossed into the kitchen and halted, stunned. His mouth flew open. He nearly dropped his grocery bags.
I stayed for four days. On my last day, we hiked Mt. Major together. We stood in silence and enjoyed the closeness, not unlike the closeness I longed for from my childhood.