I think the times I realize you most are the long quiet drives home while stuck in traffic after a Saturday morning overtime shift. I think about all that goes on in my daily life and all that I am working through. I think about the house, the mortgage, and the bills that come along with it. Then I think about how wild it is to realize that I am an adult. I’m a grownup husband and a dad.
I remember back when I was a young boy and The Old Man would come home from work. He sat at the table, eating a reheated dinner while I was running around in a pair of blue, feetie pajamas. The lights were slightly dimmed at the dinning room table and the outside sky was dark with nighttime.
Our family dogs waited beneath the table with hopes that either a piece of food would fall to the floor or The Old Man felt generous enough to share some of his meal.
The Old Man’s attention was intense on his plate of food—grease from the chicken glistened around his mouth and empty chicken bones lay scattered on the plate with all the meat cleaned and chewed away. A bead of sweat formed on the Old Man’s upper lip to represent his satisfied appetite.
The Old Man appeared deep in thought; perhaps, thinking about business, or bills, or maybe The Old Man was thinking about the economy. Maybe he was thinking about the government or lack of discipline in our society or the price of gas.
If you remember, the price of gas was a big thing with The Old Man. He would take an extra-long drive for a better price per gallon. He would drive out of his way—even at the risk of burning more gas than the trip was worth—just to say he paid a good price to fill the tank.
I stood nearby the dinner table, sometimes playing, but most times hopeful The Old Man would turn his attention away from his plate of food and switch his intensity to a look of affection.
Strange, how life evolves. I see life as a series of stages and steps that lead to the next phase of our existence. It is strange to me that I now come home late and sit at the head of my own table. It is strange that I take notice to the different prices of gas at different gas stations along Franklin Turnpike or on Route 17. Same as The Old Man, I make the mental notes—thinking to myself, “I’m gonna have to remember that place.”
When I come home tired after my shift at work, I look down with my attention intense on a plate of food. My dogs wait beneath the table with hopes that either a piece of food falls to the floor or I decide to be generous and share a few scraps from my meal.
There are times when I come home and the thought process is too thick. I try to decompress. I try to process my priorities and manage my bill payments in my thoughts. I try to figure the checking account to make sure the number stays black instead of red with a negative dash on the left side of the number.
I am frightened. I am afraid of something going wrong in the new house. I’m afraid of some extraordinary bill coming in to wipe me out. I’m afraid of new aches and pains, or strange discoveries on my body like the lump I found a few days back. I am afraid of doctors, lawyers, bill collectors, the heating bills, electric bills, and the failure to pay each of my utilities while feeding and clothing my family. I guess this is why The Old Man stared down at his plate of food the way he did. I guess he had the same fears and the only true remedy for these concerns was the meal you prepared for him.
Same as the Old Man, I sit at the head of my table—mouth greasy from a piece of chicken. The empty bones lay eaten with every bit of meat chewed away. Sweat beads on my upper lip to represent a satisfied appetite.
My world is the four walls of my home, which is not a home I built, but this world I live in is the world I created.
Same as The Old Man, I am intense and focused upon my meal, which I view as the only true remedy for my concerns.
Sitting at my table, my mind continues to churn after a long day. As I eat, I begin to process the arguments from my day and rehearse the responses I wished I had answered with.
I think about you most on the quiet drives when I am alone after a shift at work. I grab my phone to make the call. I sometimes go as far as touching the screen on my cell phone. This is when I realize the phone no longer rings where you live now.
I think what I miss most is telling you about my day and hearing you say, “You’re just like your father.”
I miss hearing the pride in your voice and feeling as if the call I just made is the call that just made your day.
It’s hard, Mom.
You’ve been physically gone since this last June.
I had to speak with the people at the cemetery last week. I don’t like them very much.
I spoke with the man responsible for engraving your headstone today. He asked me what I wanted to have him place on the stone. It’s hard to answer questions like this.
I miss you Mom.
I’m sorry you had to go.
I wish things were different. I wish there was more you could have seen before you left. I wish there was more I could have done and more I said that last time we spoke on the phone.
I wish you could see where I live now. You would like it. The town is very quiet and the mountains in our backyard are so peaceful. We’ve seen a lot of deer. We saw one walking down the sidewalk in a place called New City this morning.
Claire and I just chased a large white goose out of the road in front of our house. Cars drove passed and stopped. They honked the horn, but the big goose just stood up tall, waddling its tail feathers, and slapping its black webbed feet against the blacktop. I think the goose was very young and very lost. I think the goose was scared. Maybe the goose was looking for its mom. I guess I can relate. I think no matter how old I become, no matter how big, strong, and no matter where I am or familiar I may be with my surroundings, a piece of me will always be a little boy looking for his mom
Speak to you soon, Mom.
By the way, we had our first real snowfall last week
It was absolutely beautiful