October 4, 2011

Distractions of Dad

Since my Dad died in January 2007, I’ve gone through what I figure are normal cycles of remembering him and missing him. Not that I don’t always remember and miss him – of course I do.  Most of the time, he’s tucked safely away in my heart; but occasionally I feel he’s sitting right next to me, walking along side of me, or looking over my shoulder. It’s happened twice in the last week, and both times it’s been the most marvelous experience.

The first time was Saturday at the grocery store.  I had left My Sweet Baboo in the cat food aisle and headed off in another direction, and stopped short when I saw a man start to toss something across a low display case to his wife, who was on the other side with their cart. He was gesturing with his hands, making a tossing motion, and she was gesturing right back at him, clearly indicating with both her facial expression and her hands that she wanted no part of his pitch and catch game. He kept trying, she kept saying no, and eventually he gave in and walked over to her, handed her the item, and went off to get something else.
I stood there giggling, and the woman looked at me as if I was nuts; after all, she clearly communicated that she thought her husband had been acting like a child. I apologized to her for laughing and told her it could be worse: when I was a kid, my Dad would roll cat food cans, paper towels, and whatever else he could get moving down the aisle, and my job was to scoop everything up and put it in the cart. Sometimes I missed; things would slide by, and Dad and I would laugh, go pick up the cans, and move on to the next aisle. I thanked her for reminding me of that fun; she smiled and walked away, and secretly I wished her husband would try my Dad’s favorite trick – tossing something across the top of the shelves, from one aisle to another! He didn’t try it often, but it was fun when he did.  (Note that we lived in a small town, with a small family-owned grocery store; I don’t think our behavior would be as well received in a larger store like Wegmans.)
Today it was snickerdoodles. One of my co-workers stopped by this afternoon with a container full of them. They were my Dad’s favorite cookies, mostly because every year at Christmas his sister would make some for him. She’d pack them in a coffee can, put on a pretty bow, and put them under the tree. At some point, we kids would sneak the cookies out from under the tree (preferably while everyone was in the room), and hide them. Even though everyone knew the drill, it was still fun to go through the process, coming up with more creative ways to steal, hide and then rediscover the cookies. One year my aunt made two containers, one for stealing, and one which she triumphantly handed to my Dad, a huge ‘so there, kids!’ moment. In the silliness that followed, my brother stole the second batch and hid that one too.  Another year, we actually left the cookies behind; I remember there was much feigned indignance for a couple of days after Christmas, which ended when the cookies were safely delivered.
Two wonderful memories, completely unexpected, and made that much more enjoyable as a result.  Thanks Dad, for the distractions.