Sundays with my father began with the sounds of Bob Marley, the Beatles, CCR, a concert of classics. The smell of bleach as he mopped the kitchen floor. Mopped and sang. The sight of the kitchen chairs vertically lined up in the dining room. “But I’m hungry!” I’d exclaim. Calmly he’d challenge my inpatients with a game, lifting me up, putting me down in the first chair, kissing the top of my head, saying “But how will your passengers get home if their bus driver is eating breakfast?!” I’d always play along, entering into a world of make believe until the smell of breakfast overcame the dwindling smells of bleach. Sunday mornings must always be started with an Irish breakfast, runny eggs, potatoes, sausages and black pudding. Hot and ready in a plate waiting for me. He did everything for me, down to cutting my toast into “soldiers” a nonsensical word for cutting it into strips. But everything was a game between us, everything was fun.
Mondays meant the start of the workweek, which for my father began at 5 AM and ended at 11. It was his long day. The one-day a week when our time was put on hold. When I’d have to remember all the stories I wanted to share for the next day, would have to make my own solders, and sing my own songs. But even in those days when we were unable to see each other, when he awoke and went to bed long before and after me, we still managed to create a memory. All my life I’ve been a restless sleeper, while I may start out at the head of the bed, I almost always wake up with my feet dangling off the end. On the nights when we didn’t see each other, my father would come into my room, kiss my forehead and said goodnight, I always wondered if he knew I was awake, that I’d wait for his goodnight before falling asleep. In the morning, after my nightly commute, my dad would pass my room and tickle my feet; only he could make me laugh from the moment I woke up.
Tuesdays after a long day of work, still covered in the remnants of a day on a construction site, he’d take my little hand and walk with me to the local corner store, the candy store we’d call it. I was allowed to pick a few things but always opted for the gummy bears. The little bears, placed in the little brown bag, held in my little hand, with my big sense of pride and happiness. We’d sit on the couch, candy in tow, and watch TV together. This was our time, and though my hands have grown and the little brown bag seems to have become even smaller, the sight of those little bears takes me back to a time when my biggest dilemma was choosing candy at the store with my dad.
Wednesdays I knew he’d be outside of school to pick me up, always waving when he saw me to make sure I knew he was there. He’d take my bag, ask me about my day and genuinely listen to my lengthy, detailed response. He always listened. Instead of going home, we’d head to the park, straight to the swings. Petrified of swinging too high, I’d always have a mid air conniption, instead of slowing down, however, he’d push me more and as he continued to push the swing higher he’d comfort me “I’m right here, do you really think I’d let you fall?” Always guiding me as I faced a fear, a challenge, a dilemma. Pushing me past my fears, helping me to soar higher than I thought possible.
Thursdays were filled with after school activities. Though he wasn’t there with me, he always was ready to help when need be. The year I joined softball, we practiced to perfect my technique (or lack thereof) for an upcoming game, when I joined cheerleading he gave up his time to come to competitions, despite the fact that I was on a team, it was my Dad who taught me the proper way to dribble a basketball. He was always there to support my dreams, on the sidelines cheering me on, never holding me back from what I wanted to accomplish.
Friday nights were for relaxing. The best of those nights were during the summer. Sitting on the terrace as my dad barbequed and sang, always singing. We’d sit at the small round table for dinner, “look at that!” he’d say pointing behind me, I’d turn knowing that he was reaching for my plate to steal some food, I’d whip my head around and yell threw fits of laughter “DAD!”, he’d bang his fist on the table, “nothing gets past you! You’re too clever for me!, always playing. After dinner I’d jump in and out of the pool, pretending I was in the Olympics “what would you score this jump dad?” he’d watch every time. As the summer air changed from humid to breezy we’d move the party inside, the music always following us. In the living room, Elvis sang Can’t Help Falling In Love In through the surrounding speakers, and I’d place my feet on my dads so we could dance around the living room. “This is what it’ll be like at your wedding one day.” “I think my feet will be too big by then Dad!” He’d smile, although now I recall it being sad, most likely because he knew there would be a day where I would be too big to look up at him, to dance around the living room, to have him be the only person I’d want to dance with.
Saturdays with my dad began with breakfast at iHop. The car ride always consisted of brainstorming what to order, we’d go starving and did whatever we could to cut down the wait time, looking at a menu wasted precious minutes better spent on eating. Apparently going out for breakfast on a Saturday was not a unique idea, so despite our best efforts we always had to wait to be seated. Waiting for our booth was never dreaded but embraced. We’d pick out people and make up stories about their lives “that’s Sara, she lives in a mansion, but her cooks quit so she had to come here for breakfast, she thinks it’s beneath her but she doesn’t want to starve.” We’d pick up on other people’s conversations and laugh at the ridiculous things people say in public. Take me out to dinner now and I can always tell you what the people tables away are discussing. What my dad would say about their conversation.
Life with my Dad has taught me what I want out of my own life, what I want for myself and what it means to have a best friend. There is no greater feeling than knowing you are someone’s entire world, that no matter what, there is someone who would do anything for you, be anywhere for you. Never would he ask for anything in return, the joy of seeing me happy was enough. It’s those memories of candy and dancing that fill me with indescribable warmth. It’s these moments that I’ve taken with me into adulthood, which I look for in friends and boyfriends. I surround myself with people who make me laugh, who can be supportive and positive through the worst of situations and who can truly appreciate the importance of a good breakfast and a great song.