My father died ten years ago today. You can read about that here if you like. Ten years is hard to process. How does one do that? By days and years clearly. What else? By what’s changed? By what’s different? Children had, weight gained, meals enjoyed, places lived, chins, jobs had, money made, money lost?
How would he process it? That’s the thing I miss – knowing what he’d say. I don’t really know what he’d say about ten years having passed since he died.
So I’m taking the “What Would He Recognize” route. I don’t look too different. He’d comment on wrinkles. He may say I’ve put on a few pounds and that’s a good thing. He’d say my husband looks better with the glasses he now wears. He’d recognize Avery. He’d be able to pick his other four grandkids who he didn’t meet out of a crowd. He’d recognize our home and our home city. Still here, ten years later. We lost a cat and that would make him sad but we still have Max and that would make him laugh.
He’d ask “So, what’s new?”
Well, Dad, you have all these new grandkids and mom is still stirring up the firehouse (not new but awesome anyway), your other daughter and son in law live near mom with their amazing three children (he’d fake gasp and say “THREE! I always knew that child would have three kids!”) so their lives are filled with sports, toddler antics and train and garbage truck obsessions (he’d love that last bit and encourage a wildly impractical collecting habit). Also, Dad, all of your thousands of records and CDs are gone but they’re in a good home (he’d say “I’ll speak to your mother about that.”). I don’t think I’d mention that Donald Trump is President. He wouldn’t believe that anyway.
He’d probably ask about work. He never understood what I did in finance (“She does something with money – you’d have to ask her. She ignored me when I said she should be a priest.”) but he always asked about it. So now the answer would be “So a couple years ago I decided I was done with the whole corporate thing and with the encouragement of my husband and business partner decided to end all of that and now we own and I run these cafes – two of which we bought and well, one which we opened exactly a year ago – actually on October 25th nine years exactly on the day you died. Yes on that day we opened a restaurant in New York City.”
This is where I have a hard time…I don’t know really how he would have reacted. Or what exactly he would have said. What’s hard about that is that I feel like I always had a sense of what he’d say…we were pretty good at finishing each other’s sentences, you see. But on this I’m stumped.
I do know he would have listened. “Well, tell me about that!”
So I’d say a lot including “When we jumped into this café venture it was assumed we’d open more. I never knew how many but at least one. Three months after buying two we embarked on opening a third. My husband found the perfect spot in Park Slope. For nine months we tore down, planned, designed, bought, built, spent, unpacked, stocked, hired, prepped, sweated, cried, laughed, cried more, spent more, had night sweats, got excited and then opened. It’s been absolutely great. I mean the cafes drive me nuts (they’re like your kids – you LOVE them but they can make you insane) but overall they’re great and the new one has performed beautifully. I feel lucky. Very very lucky (and all kinds of grateful to the loads of people who helped and are still there today making it great every day).”
He’d say “Tell me about the food.”
And that’s how we’d carry on. The one other thing I know is where he’d sit. He’d like the new café and if he were to join us today on our one year birthday he’d sit at table 6. It’s a corner table, a little tucked away, with a view of the rest of the café. He’d like that seat. He’d spread out with his books and get a iced black coffee and hold court. He liked to hold court and listen.
That’s what he did, he listened. So maybe it doesn’t matter so much that I don’t know what he’d say.
Dad, see you at table 6.