I call "home" pretty regularly to chat with my Mom and update her on myself and the grandkids, but my Dad is not much of a phone person. Since I left home for college a decade and a half ago, I've talked to my Dad less and less. He'll get on the phone for a few minutes, and say hello, but not much more. For a long time, I thought this would really put a cramp in our relationship and that made me sad (especially since in my mind, I was a "Daddy's girl" growing up). But tonight, as I made dinner, I realized that's not really true.
Tonight for dinner, I chopped up a home-grown cucumber and three home-grown tomatoes. For all the years I can remember of my childhood (in fact, it's still there), my Dad had a garden out in the backyard, with tomatoes, and cukes, and beans. Maybe there were other things, but those are the ones I remember. By this time of year, every dinner my Dad cooked (which was many nights of the week) came with a home grown tomato on the side, sliced, cut in half, and slathered in mayo and pepper. Maybe not so healthy (with the mayo), but VERY yummy!!
Just recently I got a postcard from my Dad, as he and my Mother vacationed in Wales. In the postcard, he reminisced about a previous trip that the four of us (my parents, brother, and I) made to the same place. A trip that is now, he KINDLY pointed out, more than 1/2 my life ago! He remembered and referenced little details that I couldn't have told you before reading his postcard, but now remember clear as day, thanks to him.
Randomly during the years I've been living far from my parents (about 800 miles to be exact), I'll get an envelope marked with my Dad's distinctive handwriting. In the envelope are random newspaper articles that may have something to do with someone I went to high school with, a place that we used to go when I was a kid, or one of my hobbies (Monopoly games for instance). Each time, there are notes and comments written on these articles, and thought provoking questions, letting me know exactly what was on Dad's mind when he saved these for me. Many of those articles are upstairs in my file cabinet. On occasion, I flip through it and re-read them.
In the last year, I've learned that each Saturday morning Dad catches up on my blog. He won't comment online, but instead, when the mood strikes him, he sends me an email with his insights, witty comments, criticism, or other feedback. Every one of those emails has been saved, and the comments within taken to heart and seriously considered.
When I hear certain key words, I instantly think of Dad. What are those key words? Diabetes, photosynthesis, and lactic acid. Yup, those words make me think of Dad. See, dear old Dad was a university professor who taught plant bio-chemistry. When I really upset him, or really misbehaved, my punishment was a lecture. I spent a "grueling" hour learning about diabetes, and a seperate one learning about lactic acid. I remember the lectures, but not the offense for which I was punished!! And a few weeks ago, on a hike in a forest preserve with the kids, we saw a pond full of lemna. Let me tell you, I was tearing up just looking at them!
So tonight, as I ate my cukes and tomatoes, I thought of dear old Dad. I'm sure next Saturday when he reads this, some of it will get to him, but he'll probably never let me know that. That's just how dear old Dad is. But when I get an email or an envelope full of newspaper articles, I'll know he was thinking of me.... And that's what matters!