Father’s Day came and went this year, punctuated as always with bittersweet memories and the scent of lilacs.
And, because I once had a dad, even though it was long ago and far away, during that special day I keep a tiny little corner of my mind reserved to simply remember him.
I remember moments.
I remember the way the Clearwater River tumbled and roared around a bend, finally meeting up with a pool of quiet tranquility.
We fished there in that quiet pool, my dad and I. And if I close my eyes and imagine, I can still feel the sun warm on my hair and the safe feeling of knowing my dad was casting his line right beside me.
My dad was my very first music teacher. He sang in the car, so I did, too. We sang songs about Scotland and old westerns and some crazy, mixed up tunes we didn’t know all the way through and we were happy.
We traveled on dusty gravel roads flanked with ditches dotted with Indian Paint Brushes and Brown Eyed Susans.
It was good being young and having a dad and going fishing lots and learning how music can soften the edges of the harshest days.
I smile as I remember, but the clock above the kitchen sink ticks ominously and I put away my memories and move on.
Trying to gather my offspring and their offspring and get them altogether under one roof for Father’s Day or any holiday, for that matter, is somewhat like herding cats.
“Tonight,” my daughter wailed. “I thought you were doing it next week.”
“I can’t possible come,” child number two said. “My family is all sick.”
My son simply did not answer his text.
But, in the end they all came, spilling through the front door in stages, the little boys lugging in a T-shirt they had bought for grandpa, each fighting tenaciously for a grip on the handle of the gift bag as they laboriously made it up the stairs. They presented it with a flourish. It was accepted in the same manner.
My daughter, who came late, brought the promised rhubarb crisp.
And to me, at least, it seemed her offering made the get-together complete and perfect.
She picked it out of her own yard and cooked it her very own self.
It was delicious, but it was more than that.
It was a reminder that as much as Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or any holiday in our lives for that matter, brings with it so many changes, some things remain delightfully and wonderfully the same.
Rhubarb shouts of families and get-togethers and kitchens.
Rhubarb is coal and wood stoves, water pails, barbed wire fences and spring.
Rhubarb is toddlers wearing overalls and no shoes playing in the sunshine while their mom watches them out the kitchen window.
Rhubarb is home. Rhubarb is constant, inevitable and good. Rhubarb grows, no matter what.
And even as we go through life’s little game of hardball where unexpected changes can leave us confused and, sometimes, a little frightened, some things will remain, now and forever, the same.
Things like rhubarb crisp and families and new babies and flowers that grow in roadside ditches and music.
And those are good things, very good things!
ON THE OTHER SIDE