When my dad came in not too long ago, he brought a lot of things with him. Things I’ve had to work my way through. Lots of family pictures. My mom’s purse as it was left the day she had her stroke. Her phone with my last text to her. Her tablet loaded with medical records and pictures…her rosary from high school. When time stopped, I suppose I just forgot about the time leading up to that moment. So many years that came before. Of them. Of us. Of my kids. When we were all together. None of that stopped or was erased. It only seemed like it. For a while.
I found pictures of my grandparents and extended family I never really knew. Baby pictures of my oldest in third hand clothes, back when my wife and I barely had money to develop film.
And pictures my brother had sent home from various trips that I’d never seen. As the movie goes “he was smiling. You know, smilin’ that Luke smile of his. He had it on his face till the very end”. And I’m sure he did. It comes from my dad. And I still see it in him even today through all the years and heartache on his face. One of my very favorite things about him. It was when I knew everything was okay. Or maybe he was done being mad. That we were all okay again.
My daughter leaves for New York tonight. Off to spend the summer with her boyfriend and his family. And, as has been typical lately, it’s made me think. It makes me wonder what memories she’ll be sifting through twenty years out. The struggles she’ll be looking back on with whoever she decides to have take that journey with her. And who she’ll be missing. My dad won’t be around, most likely. But she’ll know him. And I’ll remember him through her. Because I see him in her every day.
And, somehow, as I see who she’s growing into, I find more of myself in her each day even though I could never measure the courage and strength she’s taught me. Without even knowing. I’ll miss her. But I want her to go. This is how time begins to move forward. For her and for me.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my father. And I finally have it. My mom took this when they visited Stations of the Cross together as teenagers. Their relationship was still new. She, no doubt, had the rosary with her that she carried until her last day. I see these private moments between them when so much lied ahead, a whole life. And I wonder how much of all this they ever saw. Or if they ever even looked. I can’t be sure.
I know where we are now. But I’m glad to be able to know and see all that came before regardless of what lies ahead.
There are few of me that I connect with the way I do this one, where I’m actually reminded of where *I* come from. That I am a part of him. I will be proud, one day far off, to be even a small bit of the man my father has been to all of us. Through everything and back again.