Snow Day

It’s a snow day. It means I have time to think. We don’t have many snow days, and frankly since I am not a student or child and count each customer’s order shipped as bread in my belly, I do not really appreciate it when the weather determines the factory’s productivity. Nevertheless, it does give me some time to think without being interrupted, and that’s a luxury.

And it’s funny how things go. Today’s plan was to putter around the house doing little things like finally putting away Christmas decorations, getting the laundry caught up, and maybe even dry-mopping the hardwood floors, but while I was poking through Facebook this morning I spotted something a childhood friend posted about a new restaurant. It wasn’t the restaurant that caught my eye; it was the location of it. Mashpee.

My parents built a summer home in Mashpee, in a planned community called New Seabury, in 1964. Seeing the comment on Facebook has had me waxing nostalgic for hot summer days at the beach with my mom, followed by endless games of Rummy and Cribbage after supper, ever since. Suddenly a blizzard of memories are swirling around me. Memories of having friends down for the weekend, riding our bikes, exploring the new construction that was popping up all around us. My parents were wonderful hosts, and it seems that they always had enough to take us out to the movies on Saturday night or out to dinner. Sometimes we would play miniature golf. What we didn’t have was television. I resented it then, but no longer. It was a wise decree courtesy of my father.

I miss my dad. He was a difficult man. He was a charming man. He had a giant sense of humor but also an unpredictable temper that could send you into the corner wondering what the heck just happened. He was brilliant, and yet he made some colossal mistakes. I do no finger-pointing. I merely remember and try not to regret his blunders.

I cried like a baby the day he died and many times since. We were very close as fathers and daughters go. We learned to sail together, we taught each other how to play tennis, and with deference to any and all tennis partners I have had in my life, he was by far the best, and my all-time favorite. He was a fierce competitor, and he never let me win, which made beating him on the court all the sweeter.

He took me to the zoo and never scolded me for being afraid to feed the buffalo. Gentle giants, those buffalo. We would go to the factory on Sunday mornings sometimes, and ride up the freight elevator to the third floor.

He taught me how to drive a stick-shift. He told me once I was the only driver he ever felt safe enough to fall asleep in the car while he was a passenger.

He stepped up to the plate when my mother died and heeded my warning that he was no longer just my father, but now he had to be my mother too. He understood. He and I understood. It didn’t matter that no one else did. We had each other, my dad and me. And he liked TT. It helps when your father likes and respects your spouse. Having my father endorse my choice of husband meant more to me than I can ever say.

I miss my dad. For about two weeks after he died, he followed me around. Every once in a while I would look up from my desk at the factory thinking that someone was at the door needing my attention and there would be daddy, in his khakis and maroon cashmere sweater, smiling, just for a split second before he would fade back into the ether. I dreamed of the two of us side by side, talking, leaning into each other like a priest and confessor, and he showed me how thin the veil between here and there really is. And then, finally, I dreamed of him ascending a set of stairs at a schoolhouse. He told me I couldn’t go with him. I knew it too and understood through my disappointment.

I kept his sweater though, and today after storing it for years, I put it on. It’s warm and soft and wraps me in folds of gentle memories. I don’t ever remember him being home on a snow day, but today I’m glad he popped into my consciousness.