Some things are harder to get used to than others. There are family dinners where old familiar faces no longer appear. Their absence is palpable and the silence is deafening.
But there is no way around that. There are no pills, spells or machines that enable us to cheat death. Sooner or later we all walk across the field and disappear into whatever lies on the other side of those cornfields.
It is not a bad thing. It is a natural thing, but that doesn’t always take the sting away of knowing that you can’t ask one more question, hear that story one more time or play fetch again with that furry friend.
Father’s Day 2012 made me think of all that and more. It was a very good day but it was also the first Father’s Day without any of my grandfathers to celebrate with. I went from being the third generation of fathers, the kid, to second generation. I don’t know if you call that a promotion or not. I didn’t get a new title, a bigger office or even an increase in salary.
Nor did I get to ask my grandfathers the traditional question of why they didn’t make my father rich so that I could be rich. They would laugh and blame their fathers for that.
I would laugh and say that I suspected this blame game went up the ladder quite a bit. Always good to know that I was a link in a chain of men who refused to be accountable.
They would laugh too and we would talk about life as men do. That last sentence is more significant than you might realize. We would talk about life as men do- I was the son and the grandson, but I was also a father. I had gained entrance to the club.
A Walk Down Wacker
I remember leaving my hotel to walk around the city. I walked down Wacker looked at buildings I hadn’t seen before and some that I had. I wandered in between the people and wondered what life had been like there in the twenties and thirties.
Lost in thought I eventually made my way to Michigan and and pulled out my cellphone to call my grandparents. Chicago was where they had all grown up and the place where my half my family still lived.
But I for various reasons I hadn’t been there more than a few times and almost always on a short trip where I had no time to see things or visit.
It was a surreal experience. Los Angeles was home but I have always felt like I have roots in Chicago. I know a million stories about people and places in the city and it is fair to say that I have wondered on more than one occasion if I might end up living there one day. Couldn’t tell you if it would be for a moment or a minute…
Chicago was a legend to my sisters and I. It was city covered in magic fairy dust and somewhere very far away and yet close enough to touch.
Father’s Day 2012- Los Angeles
Last year the children brought me breakfast in bed, but they decided that this year they had to do something more memorable. So instead of bringing me a hot cup of coffee and some eggs they brought me a hot argument…between the two of them.
And let me tell you that you haven’t lived until you have woken up because your children are standing at the side of your bed screaming at each other about something silly. Good times.
Of course I am not a new father so I opened my eyes just wide enough for lightning bolts to shoot out of them and the room grew silent. I won’t lie and say that I can pull that off every time, but damn I love when I can stop them in their tracks with just a look.
They recovered quickly and we had a very fine day which included more laughter than screaming and a lot of love.Â One of the highlights ( and there many) came from a card that my daughter made for me.
She told me that I am the greatest dad ever and drew a very cool picture inside of me and her. Next to my mouth she drew a little bubble in which I said, “Let’s go for ice cream.”
The dialogue continued in a bubble she drew by her mouth which said, “I have my spoon!”
It really is too bad that my grandfathers weren’t there for that because this would have made them roar with laughter and beam with pride.
Not to mention they would have loved the long discussion my dad and I had with my son about Rodney King and our experiences in the LA Riots. During our discussion I remembered that during the riots they burned down an ice cream shop I used to visit occasionally.
Later on I thought about the shop and the card my daughter made for me and wondered if twenty some years ago some kid said, “dad I have my spoon” and was told that they couldn’t go because the ice cream store had melted to the ground.
It has been almost ten years since I was in Chicago. Think it is time for me to grab my spoon and go back.