Happy Father's Day

I have often heard it said that when someone we love dies, they are always with us -- it's the sort of old saying that I sometimes agree with, and sometimes resent. Yeah, well where is he? as one of my young nephews once said to me.

Recently, someone turned the saying around for me: When someone you love dies, a part of you goes with them, no matter where. This feels true.

Yesterday, sleep starved, trying to grade papers, waiting for Emma to come out to the car with her friends after a movie, I suddenly saw my dad, not in that idealized way that I often picture him -- the dad I knew as a child -- but as I'd last seen him. He was wearing his plaid barn coat and he looked tired, too, his face a little sunken, his blue eyes watery. Two weeks ago he visited my mother in the ER in Centralia. "How did he look?" I asked her. "Oh, about the same," she said. "He was probably wondering what was taking me so long."

Happy Father's Day, Dad.