Saturday, January 16, 2010

I think for a moment I see my father

Sometimes, at odd moments, I think I see my father. Well, the truth is, I see a man who reminds me of my father, and for a fleeting moment I think, wouldn't that be something if it was him?

For example, I see a tall gawky rail of a man, about 60, maybe (yes, definitely too young to be my father), and looking a little--just a little--down on his luck. He's got that hard to define way about him that makes me guess, former-Navy. Long time Navy. He's a tall wiry fellow with thinning gray hair, wearing a slightly worn corduroy blazer from Goodwill--one of those Western-style shirts that nobody wears in the East--baggy pants that make you wonder if he hasn't lost some weight recently, and of course deck shoes. His way of walking is straight-backed and yet easy and rolling. Like I said, former Navy.

He sits down to read the paper at the table across from me. He looks--how shall I say this--out of place. I think he's been on the road for a while, living out of the back of his truck. I think he's looking for somebody, a daughter or a son, somebody whose whereabouts he's not quite sure of. But I think he's patient. He'll keep looking. And I think he thinks he's got nothing to lose. He's got nothing left to lose.

He drinks his "tall" coffee without cream or sugar. Although he's still holding the newspaper in front of him, he's looking wistfully out the window. After a few minutes, he'll seem to get an idea. Forgetting his coffee abruptly, his eyes that had been seeing nothing are now focused and keen. He glances around the room, taking in every face, seeming to remember suddenly where he is and why. His eyes are a crisp blue color like the morning sky and you get the feeling he's a sharp fellow when he wants to be. He'd always guess which shell the bean was under. He'd never miss a trick.

Next thing I know, he's striding toward the door. Now he's into the street, dodging traffic. It's like he's on a mission. He's always been on a mission. All his life. He's heading back to his truck, I guess, parked in some grocery store parking lot, and he knows just what to do now.

And I think, good for him. I'm rooting for him. I hope someday he can say, mission accomplished. I lose him quickly in the crowd and the traffic. I'm still sitting here at Starbucks.

My father's been dead now twenty years almost. Yet every now and then I think I see him. It's as if for just a moment the world is not what it seems, and the things that are true, well, maybe they've been misinterpreted. I'm like a kid trying to guess which shell the bean is under.

It's just a trick of the mind, maybe of the heart. Anyway, I'm sitting here at Starbucks, and he walks in, looks around, sees me, and comes striding toward me with his arms wide. And I hear that word again, "Son." And he says, "It's been too long." And he says, "I thought I'd never find you."

1 comment:

Glynn said...

My father, too, has been dead for more than 20 years, almost 23 in fact. And there are times, like passing someone wearing Old Spice shaving lotion, that I look around and expect to see him. Beautiful post.