May 2 is but one the 365 days per year, another block on the calendar, but also it is World Tuna Day. Who knew?
Skip on by if you, rare reader, are looking for something difference for me recycling family memories. It’s my blog!
This day for me is the marking of my Dad’s birthday, the last one I celebrated with him was the last he celebrated in 2001. His cake was given in the hospital where his present was the cancer diagnosis that took him from us in less than 4 months.
I spotted my usual memory objects, one of which is an ancient long wooden level that once resided in his basement tool corner of the family home in Baltimore. I feel the worn indents where his hands might have held the tool, the nicks, trying for any sense of life presence, which of course is not there.
He’d not want me being sad on his behalf, he’d want some “hello Junior” “hello senior” conversation on the phone.
I just try to keep the memory of his throaty voice in my head, it seem so far away and faint. As a kid, as a young adult, you do not foresee having to construct the memories, as my parent’s presence was as solid as the ground I stood on. Maybe it’s not practical, maybe I should have thought more of being without him. I never sat down and recorded his stories. And no one is left to fill them in. All I have is my memory and the sensations.
Hello memories of our regular family summers at the beach in Ocean City, MD. Dad’s smiles were the biggest, broadest, most radiant there. He’d emerge from the surf with “that grin.”
One memorable summer we were there in the tail end of a hurricane, I believe it was Hurricane Agnes in 1972 (?). One day was too dangerous to even be outside, we huddled safely in our small apartment. The surf the next day was too rough for the kids to swim, but the beach was open. Dad went out three times in the surfm each time using his toes to pick up and bring back a conch shell. It was heroic to me.
My Mom still had them when we cleaned out her house.
Yesterday, as the bonus part of my birthday the week before (my birthday 5 days before dad). Cori and Jessy Lee took me on a sightseeing adventure to visit, learn about, and take photos at Batoche National Historic Site. The park was not open but we had obtained permission to walk in, we had the whole place to ourselves.
It was time to take in the scenery, but also the impact and resonance of the 1885 battle that squashed the Métis resistance, but also gave light to the ways of life that had been established there before this. I spotted a reminder in the cemetery.
And we then start talking the ins and outs of taking photos of markers, but agreeing that it’s part of memory sustaining. What do we have without our memories and the things that can summon them?
Out on the river trail, Cori pointed me to the snowberries (Symphoricarpos what grand Genus naming), and how her own Dad explained to hear that being in one of those patches was the place for us to have conversations with those that have passed. I took some time to just stand here, and summon up the words I might say to Dad.
That conversation is just between me and him, but it helped in a way to tune into the time echoes, like rocks skipping across the lack of forever of past conversations.
Whether you believe in the power of talking from the snowberries or not, it’s more about just stopping and being with the ones you can no longer talk to. They are only gone if they are forgotten.
And shortly there after, the stormy clouds and coldness of the wind lifted. And the light emerged.
Sure, just a coincidence. Some suspension of belief helps.
Happy birthday always, Dad. I shall always mark this day.
Featured Image: A photo of dad’s level taken today with personal photo of him in maybe 1994 superimposed on top. It’s my image, but like all, I release my stuff into the breeze of public domain using Creative Commons CC0.