Friday, June 15, 2012

Going for a walk with Dad - Tribute to my father.

I am going for a walk with dad.  We won’t go far; he doesn’t walk so good these days and his stamina is not all it once was. Sugar, mom and dad’s curly white haired dog, needs to go out. The day is already warming up even though it is early morning.

We walk slowly. There is so much in that. We walk slowly. Somehow, I want to be that kid again, who can barely keep up with dad as he walks home from work. From the time the ear-piercing factory whistle blows and the men come bustling out of the building with dad in their fray, me racing to greet him; we walk f-a-s-t.  That is to say, I take the biggest steps I can trying to emulate dad’s even paced gait, then I run a bit to catch up and reach for one of his swinging arms and hands. If I catch one and hold on, he will carry me forward and back again like a windmill powered by the wind. His arms are as strong as seasoned oak tree limbs and remind me of his middle name, Hercules.

Dad’s arms are a third the size they were then, yet they still show signs of the strength they once held, the weight they carried. As we silently walk and he characteristically adjusts his pants at the waist with the base of his hands, I notice them. His hands-forever in my mind as human vice grips, yet tender and loving they feel on my back as we hug when I come to visit.  Time seems to move as slowly as our walk. Dad fidgets with Sugar’s leash trying to get her to move along and do her job. I notice his fingernails. Such a strange thing to find myself focused on. They are much larger than mine are and square cut at the ends. Somehow, they too say dad to me. His hands arthritic, his skin well tanned and wrinkled speak not just of age but of his life-youth only seldom mentioned, war rarely, work,  husband,  father.

Dad nearly stumbles as he crosses his feet walking precariously close to the curb. I reach out and take his hand to steady him, urging him away from the curb. I want to give him some of my strength, to give back some of what he gave me.

There is a large white bird, maybe an egret high on a nearby rooftop of a large building. Looking through my binoculars, I see the pureness of the white feathers, the elegance of the station the bird takes atop its sky-backed perch- A beautiful encounter I want to share with dad.  I adjust the optics and hand them to him. A few seconds go by but he doesn’t say anything. Do you see the bird I ask? No, he replies. I help him adjust the glass and have him try again. After a few moments of searching, he indicates he has spotted the bird. He smiles in appreciation. I am not sure he can see the bird clearly if at all, his eyesight being poor. Yet he shares my praise of the rare and beautiful oracle above us.

I might like writing more about my last visits with dad. For now, I want to close my eyes and remember my associative feelings.

I am going for a walk now with our dogs, to pick up litter and reminisce. It’s a nice day for a walk.

 In Tribute to Edmond H. Paquette 1929-2009


Other personal stories and folktale postings:
       Ø  Letters from home: