January Makes Me ShiverMy beautiful boy, Brandon Robert Young, a.k.a. Mr. Butler, a.k.a Chicken Pee,, a.k.a. Phlumpy Pie, a.k.a. Wieners, a.k.a. Papa, is three years old today. It’s also the 24th anniversary of my father’s passing. My late father’s birthday is January 11th, which, coincidentally, was my son’s due date.
Ever since my son has come into my life, I’ve discovered just how much I miss my dad. Not sure why my son’s birth brought on the healing -- perhaps it’s the way his eyebrows move, the tilt of his chin, his lips and his broad shoulders, his golden lashes and his strange obsession with fishing. He is the spitting image of my father, and that, I think, forces me to remember -- really remember. There’s no mistaking that my boy is Robert Sydney Howe’s grandson, and God, would my dad have been proud of him. Hell, I know he’s proud, right now, this minute.
Due to many, many circumstances, I never really had the chance to properly mourn, but for the past three years, I’ve begun to grieve, and as much as I miss my dad, the grief that overwhelms me now is proper, and I welcome it. It’s right that I should cry during the last week of January, because I wasn’t allowed that luxury as a teen, a young adult; there were Other Things I had to live through, things that tangled themselves up in the event of Dad's death, things that eventually smothered that day into submission.
By the time I was a “real” adult I’d completely buried everything, comfortable with my busy life and growing family, yet always aware of that hiding place, aware enough to realize that no matter how deep I buried the hurt, it still made sounds, called to me from time to time.
I’m now determined to get it all out, till there’s only the faintest pang, till my father’s memory is purged of the Other Bad Memories of that time, till my grief is pure and only for him. Soon, I hope, I will be able to move on from that place in time, maybe even dig up the Others and tear into them but good with another round of stark raving acceptance. The Others will have to wait, however - they've been ignored for almost a quarter century now, so a few more years won't matter much.
This a good day despite the lack of family and friends -- we're all still too sick for a party. But there's someone here who doesn't mind the coughs and sneezes, the cranky whines and runny noses, someone who arrived early and who will probably stay quite late regardless of the fact we'll all head for bed before nine o'clock. And I encourage this visitor to stay as long as he wishes, because it'll be another long year before he visits again.
There’s a story that I will tell my son when he’s old enough, a story about his first smile. I was not the lucky recipient of Brandon’s first gorgeous grin, nor was my husband. It was no one that could be seen, no one that could be heard or felt -- at least by me or anybody else in our home over the age of four weeks. But I know in my heart that this someone is real and that he made himself known to my son on that day and the week to follow. I sensed his presence while my baby gazed over my right shoulder, or at seemingly empty space, and smiled so big, his dimples made their first appearance. My husband and I caught little chills during that whole week whenever Brandon flashed those dimples and waved his tiny fists and stared and stared at someone, at something that made him very, very happy.
Dad, you old rascal.