Today I played songs on my guitar for a while. I noticed my callouses were starting to fade, and I wanted to jump back on the strings before it was too late. I have been so busy, and music was not a priority. Today, I didn’t have to work, I wasn’t motivated to write, and I didn’t want to read. So I played other people’s songs I have saved in Word documents. I played my dad’s old red guitar, who I named Scarlet. I didn’t realize how sore my fingers got in that time until I stopped playing. They are still sore as I type. I like that feeling.
My dad died almost four years ago, and I still think about him a lot. He would be so happy to see how my life is going. He loved me, and he loved Jason. He would totally encourage me following my dreams. I know he would be so proud of me, like he always told me.
He would love that I’m still so happy with Jason. He would love our dog, Honey. He would admire that we are/Jason is so kind to let hard-on-their-luck folks stay in our guest room. He’d be excited that I’m growing a garden and want to try the veggies. (He was a gardener, himself.) He would love that I’m writing and reading more again, and he’d bug me about writing his life story. He’d be stoked that I finally got my jiggly leg and overtiredness under control. (HA!) He’d laugh/lament that I still MUST watch TV with “white words” (closed captioning) – he always made me turn it back off before I left, because he didn’t know how to do it. He would love that I still play guitar – HIS guitar. That I still, occasionally, write songs. He would be so tickled that my older brother is in a band that is amazing, and the guitar player of said band an old friend of my dad’s from their youth.
He’d be really proud of my bucket list and everything I’ve done this year to be social and active. He’d love that I did the March for Our Lives and the Dance Marathon and the various fundraising walks. He’d love that I’m driving so much. He’d love to hear me speak Spanish, now that I’ve got so much more vocabulary than before. He’d want to try the foods I’m learning to cook. No, he wouldn’t – he’d make me leave his plate in the fridge and say he’d get to it later, because of his teeth, but I’d appreciate the thought, like always. He’d want to order pizza from across the street at Papa Jones, where they knew his name from their caller ID. I still have his phone number memorized. It’s one of the few I ever remembered, and I kind of hope I never forget it. I wonder if someone else has it now? He’d be impressed and shake his head at my newfangled smartphone, but he’d like the guitar tuner app.
I’d like to know his opinion on Taylor Swift, because he liked her early stuff. Her new stuff is so different – I’m curious. He’d be disappointed that the Joni Mitchell biopic hasn’t happened yet. He’d tell me, for the millionth time, about when he met her, and the story that I think he just stole from an Eagles song (“standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona”), or the time when he used a fire extinguisher on a polar bear in the zoo, or the time he asked my mom if she wanted to go dancing as a joke (the rest is history). I wish he would. I’m starting to forget some of the stories. I hate that.
I miss him. I wish I could call him and see him and brush his hair because no one else did a very good job in the nursing homes. I’d love to hear him joke about his “cell” – one room apartment – and smell his nicotine-stained walls again. His guitar and jacket I got from him still smell that way. His two shirts I saved don’t, because I washed them. I loved when he wore the yellow polo or the Let it Be t-shirt I bought for him. I’d be thrilled to run down and check his mail for him, and when I was young, surprise him with a letter from me, addressed to “Dad” at his address, from “Love letter” at my address.
I love how he called my aunt Susan, his sister, Q. He called me Vanna. He called himself Jones. It threw off hospital staff when they asked for his name. They always added “Mr.” in front to make themselves feel more comfortable. When I added two ice cubes to a drink he asked for, he called that action my mom’s name like a verb and asked for more ice. I think of that every time I add ice to J’s drinks for him. He called his apartment his cell, and often chuckled about how I’d called it cozy the day he moved in. He called bills Love Letters. I thought it was hilarious. I think I’ll start doing that, too, and my kids will ask why. I’ll tell them.
I drove a power wheelchair recently for the lady whose house I clean. She didn’t know about how my dad used to go full speed around the parking lot or to the elevator and I’d have to jog to keep up. I didn’t tell her. It stuck in my throat and I didn’t want to hear “I’m sorry” while at work.
I am so grateful for memories of such good times. I’m glad I took this walk down memory lane, but it was exhausting and now my stomach hurts and my eyes sting. Goodnight, world. Goodnight, Dad. I love you.