It’s Father’s day tomorrow and oh, how I miss my dad. I haven’t seen him in nearly a year. We’ve seen each other’s faces, over-bright and slightly blurry on the computer screen. We’ve talked across the time zones, me feeding lunch to the kids, him in his pajamas with his hair on end, his pre-dawn voice all growly and low. He’s teased his granddaughter and made her laugh too loudly in the microphone, he’s heard her sing tuneless songs and seen her weird little toddler dances in the background when we talk.
Many things have happened since we’ve been together. I’ve had a baby, for example. A new granddaughter he’s never met. I hold her up to the camera, I tickle at her little sides so she’ll laugh when he makes faces at her. I bounce her up and down so he can see her pudgy cheeks wiggle. I tell him what she’s like and the little things she does. He tells me what’s happening at home. My brother moved his family to Denver. My sister finally brought home our precious Harper Grace. I hear such things with a glorious wealth of detail from my mother, but it’s only half the story when I don’t hear it from him, too.
My dad’s really been there for me this year, despite the 3,978 watery miles between us. Oh, I know, I’m a married lady and I’ve left and I’ve cleft. But there’s still a place that only he can fill and he fills it better than I can describe and certainly better than I deserve. Last week I cried when I saw his birthday card on my desk. I picked it out for him in November. His birthday was in May. I wish I could have been there to show up on his day, with a new golf shirt or similarly boring man-gift, to eat cake and tease him about his age.
You know what I’d like most on Father’s Day? First, I’d like a calm, sunny day on the lake with big fluffy clouds decorating the sky and the water clear to the bottom. I’d like a boat, anchored out in the blue somewhere, floating peacefully in the isolation of being surrounded by water. And my dad. Sitting across from me, probably wearing a woodsy T-shirt and a baseball cap. He’d be frequently glancing at the fish locator and the anchor rope, he’d be gazing around the lake noticing fishermen and wildlife and weather changes. He’d know without a second’s warning exactly how many feet of water we were in and what lure should be on the line. I’d like the waves to gently rock the hull, jigging our poles up and down. I would be waiting for a big tug, hoping I’ll remember to set the hook. I’d like to forget that I’m thirty years old, that I have a life far away and children of my own. Just for a while, just for Father’s Day, I’d like to go fishing or take a trip to the hardware store with just my dad. He wouldn’t need to say or do anything in particular, he wouldn’t have to entertain me. I just want to be with him. To listen to the stuff he says and laugh because he’s so funny and be happy because he’s my dad and I’m with him, just us.