37 years

(reposted from earlier post)

Today would have been my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary. My mom would have come home and laid on her bed/couch and watched TV. Dad would have come home with some high-end food from the grocery store, such as lobster, for the occasion. He would have come into the den and said, “Look what I got for dinner tonight! Lobster! Good lookin’ devils, aren’t they?”, trying to strike up some liveliness/interest in my mom. She would have been expressionless and indifferent-seeming as she always is, but would secretly appreciate the gesture. After cooking up the dinner, Dad would start the movie he brought home from the video store, and then bring in the lobster on collapsible tray tables to her. He’d sit in a chair next to her and start eating as well. “Mmm, good. Can’t get this at McDonald’s, eh ‘Yem’?” Mom would keep her eyes down on her plate, maybe nod a little bit, silent. But would keep her concentration on eating. The only thing she might have said was, “A little bit salty.” He would say, “I’ve got another 2 in the pot, just for you! Ready for another?” And she wouldn’t answer, but he would bring it in anyway, and she’d tear into them too. That was their dance, their routine. Her Asian way.

They dated for 7 years before they married. So when he passed away, they had been together for 41 years. Today would have marked 44.

I’ve been having dreams lately — of Dad. I see him, and we are a family again. He’s smiling at me, and then he’s gone. And then I wonder where he is. When I wake up, I have the faintest memory that we were whole again, and then I push the thought away because if I dwell too long on the wanting and wishing, I’ll never be able to move forward in the day.

Coincidentally, my mom contacted me and my bro and sis this weekend, letting us know she was giving away my dad’s dresser drawer (the 1960s one with the strange, sharp handles with geometric maze-like designs) and his big, heavy desk.  The desk he was so proud of. The one I think he sat at, and dreamed at, and rarely actually ever worked at except to write emails. But he loved that desk. When we were little kids sharing a room in Oklahoma (pre-brother), my dad had and “office” that we were never allowed to enter. Sometimes he would go in there and sit at his desk — this desk — and I would cautiously peer in to see what he was doing. I’ve always associated that desk with my Dad’s younger, ambitious, dream-filled, hope-filled self.

I know they are just things, but to me, they are still parts of him. I hate seeing his life disassembled and distributed. I hate thinking that whomever inherits the desk won’t appreciate it, won’t care, won’t know.

I still like to think of my dad there — at that desk, in his ridiculously uncomfortable red seated chair, smiling at me–a wide-eyed mangy kid–peering into his grown-up world.

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