–My dad’s things are arriving from Spain tomorrow. It’s taken this long for them to get here. Six months of filling out paperwork and dizzying instructions to ship boxes filled with objects that were in his home. Big things like paintings and his drafting table. Small things like pencils and cups he used daily. Why do we cling to material things? How do we decide if they are valuable or dispensable? My dad’s orange dish towel has become so important to me. I wasn’t even going to bring it with me this past summer, when we were making the tough decisions of what to do with his belongings. But it caught my eye as I was walking out of his kitchen. There it hung. The last dish towel my dad used to dry his hands. I grabbed it as if I were grabbing his hand.
We each took turns choosing items we wanted. So many books, photos, clothes and memories. How do you pick it all apart and dismantle your father’s life in just the few days we had to go through everything? I’m grateful the five of us were together and we behaved like the loving, respectful, passionate children that my parents raised. There were some things left over that no one “wanted” or “needed”. It broke my heart to leave behind some of my dad’s suits. I don’t know why. Maybe because he took such pride in dressing well and investing in expensive suits, shoes, sweaters. He had impeccable taste. He had an artist’s eye. He was quick to point out the beauty in something or the imperfections in a structure, a painting. He was blunt. He knew more jokes than anyone I’ve ever met. He loved order and schedules. He had a reason for everything he did and that’s why each item in his home weighed so much on my heart. Because I knew everything had a place. He had a story for everything. He had traveled, read, shared, and seen more than most people. He, he, he, he, he… my papi.
I’ve been anxious just thinking about the day when my dad’s things would get here. And now it’s here. The thought is suffocating and liberating at the same time. Part of me wishes they’d never get here. All of me wishes it was HIM. His arrival. I want his house to be intact. For this to be a dream. For us to make plans to see each other this summer in Spain. For me to tell him about Y opening up with her friends, F learning division in kindergarten, and S talking up a storm. Instead, at least 50 boxes, paintings and furniture to split between the three of us that live in Houston is on its way here as I write this. From Madrid, to Valencia, to Charleston, to Houston. God! Give me strength to go through each box with love and the knowledge that my dad had a good life. That we were blessed to have him for so many years. And we can now use these things to keep his memory alive. To tell our kids stories. To laugh and not let the tears drown us.
His home now must be full of art and the books he always wanted to read. The best wine available at all times, seafood and steaks for breakfast. I imagine that my minute mind cannot begin to fathom the glory that must surround him. I sometimes get stuck in the tears. In the flesh. In wanting to hear his voice. Call him. And then count down to the day when I get to see him. Scratch his back. Hug him. My papi. Today is tough. May tomorrow be better.