This is Christmas Eve 2003. I knitted a blue furry scarf for my sister-in-law, who I think had the good sense to never ever wear. I remember feeling a little annoyed that my dad did not appreciate the handiwork, but now I know that he understood, well before I did, how ridiculous an item this scarf was. It turns out that his mother was a knitter, never without her needles, and surely she never produced a horror like this one. I wonder what he would have thought of a cabled merino scarf, or a lace shawl, or a soft afghan. But I never knitted for him, and now I'll never know.
It was a great Christmas; we were all together, the whole family, brothers, sisters, small children, some special family members from far away. We laughed and hugged and ate, hung out and went out, talked and drank, just like every time. It was special, like usual. We knew. Dad and I even had an afternoon together -- a basketball game and lunch -- just the two of us, a wonderful father-daughter date. We knew.
He died 25 days later. No warning. Just an awful phone call from my brother. "We're pretty sure he's not going to..." I knew.
There are holes in my life, now that he's gone.
All the Villanova games I saw with his tickets, because he is not here. All the ice creams my kid's haven't eaten, since he's not here. All the glasses of wine, and wonderful meals, now that we have moved home, and he is not here. Does he know that I'm here now, not in Richmond? Does he know to look for me here? The rounds of golf with Mr. Science, the swimming in the ocean with Rosebud.. His jiggling belly, laughing at my son, his namesake, who was just an infant when he died. They would have loved each other, my dad and my son. That my kids really didn't know him, and they'll never know just what an extraordinary person my father was.
Happy 66th Birthday, Dad. I know you know I know you know I know.