I spend time trying not to think about losing my dad this year. And then other times, it is all-Jerry-all-the-time playing across my consciousness. Tonight, the blue lawn chairs in our campsite are triggering him. As I sit to coax a fire at the fire-ring, I’m fully aware that this was his skill, though if he was not on the task, it was usually because he was letting someone else learn the trade (another one of his skills).
Last summer during our vacation to Michigan, and during an evening around the backyard firepit, he gave me the fire starter task in his backyard because his oxygen tube was a real hazard. There can sometimes be too much oxygen when starting a fire.
His white beard, shaved close to the skin, showed off his dark skin. He and mom were not missing beach days in Frankfort, and their gardens were receiving a great deal of attention from them both, even as pulmonary disease redrew lines of expectation. Instead of blowing on the flames, his eyes moved from sticks in the yard to the woodpile, nudging me without a word into a routine we had performed together a thousand times.
So that’s how quiet fathers act. Not turning it all into blogs, but certainly conveying the message and creating opportunities to let you show that you had heard him—that you knew something now, too.
The fire is rolling now. Smoke pouring over the guy typing and remembering. And the campground is host to shadows walking past in the new dark.