Well. This might be hard. I've thought about you daily since you died just over 3 years ago, but unlike Daddy, I haven't talked directly to you. He used to lay in bed and chat with you at the end of the day. Peg once asked him, "Where is she when you're talking to her?" and he rather sheepishly replied, "Well, I usually look up towards that air vent in the ceiling."
And now he's gone too, and I try to convince myself that the pair of hummingbirds I saw outside my kitchen window, flitting around the winter-bare apple tree, was the universe's way of assuring me you are together again.
How often do I hear your words coming out of my mouth? I can even feel my face and body arrange themselves into your patterns. When Linden mastered riding her bike, I was laughing with delight, and I was rocketed back to memories of your face, filled with joy and pride, laughing your love for me.
I also do a lot of "My mom always said..." I had no curfew in high school because my mom always said, "They won't do anything after midnight they couldn't find a way of doing before midnight." If someone says, "Trust me!" I reply, "My mom always told my dad, 'The last time you said that, we had twins.'" Oak will take a deep breath when something is missing and say, "We know it didn't grow legs and walk off," and I am awed that this child who never met you has picked up on your phrases. It makes me wonder how many generations back some of the words and gestures go.
We have no pictures of you in our home. Your ferocious love for me left no room for my husband, and after one too many times of you exclaiming, "Wendy's here!" when the two of us walked through the door, he stopped wanting to come along. You hurt some deeply vulnerable place inside of him. I blame his mother, that last 2% of love she held back from him, but I refrain from saying so. That's a relationship we both have to maintain. Our relationship with you is more easily navigated, what with you being dead now. So I have honored his wish to not be confronted by your face at every turn. A silhouette of you rowing my big sister in a lake by Mt. Hood is the only photo on our walls. But I have pictures of you in my classroom and tucked into my desk at home. Even without those, mementos are everywhere.
In this room alone, there's the piano you and I picked out together after you sold the baby grand when you downsized, the rocking chair you salvaged and kept at the beach cabin, two of your fabric art pieces (one abstract in colors I love, one a 3D wall hanging of Multnomah Falls), your hutch, holding your mismatched china, your clock on the mantel next to the pottery candlestick you made in our backyard kiln...And in the same way my heart melts to hear my son using your sayings, I was moved to notice that when my daughter picked out the dishes for her birthday dinner, she decisively chose only the ones that had been yours, rather than a single one I'd received from my sister or chosen on my own. They are not your biological grandchildren, but they come from your father's homeland, and they are like you in surprising ways.
I miss you. Can you hear that, through my chatter? I wish constantly to be able to talk to you again. You were always so interested in what I had to say. It's embarrassing to admit how much I enjoyed that about you. But I also loved to hear what you had to say. You were so reflective and wise. You never apologized for your temper when we were growing up, but in later conversations, you told me about how frightened you were sometimes, how little you understood your own mood swings. You told me about your own childhood, your own relationship with your parents, what it was like being a young wife and mother in the 1950s. There are so many ways I am nothing like you. There are so many ways I am just like you. When my husband expresses humble awe at my ability to organize the car for a camping trip, I know this is something I learned from you without you even meaning to teach me. Every plant I name along a hiking trail makes me think of you.
Every time I let my kids lick out the bowl, which I purposely have left extra batter in, I think of you.
Every time I sew a little repair, I think of you.
Every time I pick a bouquet, put it in a vase, then say, "There. I cleaned house."
Every time I yell until my children cringe.
Every time I burst into laughter.
Every time I take a temperature.
Every time I make biscuits.
I love you.
I wrote this as part of #FTSF (Finish the Sentence Friday.) I have no idea what I'm doing, but I think I can figure out how to link up.