This is a story about a father on mother’s day.
No matter how old I get, in the eyes of my father I’ll always be an innocent little girl who needs to be safeguarded.
As I’ve written before, while my dad is not as physically strong as he once was, he is still there to slay dragons, look out for my best interests and keep me from harm. Our best visits are now in the early morning when he’s well-rested. That’s when the damage from a stroke that leaves him searching for words from his once vibrant vocabulary seems the least obvious.
I find him on Sunday morning on the sofa watching Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in a movie called Desk Set. I take a seat next to him.
“Pammie, have you seen this movie? Her character reminds me of you.”
I shake my head no and we spend the next hour laughing and enjoying the witty dialogue. During commercial breaks we compare headlines from the New York Times. Not a word is said about Mother’s Day. (We had taken my mother out for a celebratory lunch some 24 hours before the full onslaught of mommydom on account of my flight departing at noon.)
An hour later I’m dressed and dropping him by the church at the end of our street. Despite his stroke he can, thankfully, still sing. He has a beautiful voice. The choir assembles early so my mother will join him later. We pull up to the curb. I get out of the car to say goodbye. I’m secretly grateful that I won’t have to go inside with him.
In the last few minutes of our visit together, he grabs my hand and says haltingly, “You know this is the Mass where they have that awful display. When they ask all the mothers to stand. And all I can do is think of you and those like you and … ”
His eyes tear up. My eyes tear up. Neither of us know what to say next. And then I became a little girl again. I fall into his arms for a hug. He holds me tightly and whispers in my ear, “Goodbye, baby.”
I watch as he makes his way down the church steps and that’s when I have a good cry.
I had been able to avoid the mom-poolooza and the painful experience of sitting in church while all the women around me stand to be blessed but I couldn’t avoid the wave of emotions that the day inevitably brings forth. I’m just glad my dad was there to help make it all better.