Two days ago, I maneuvered my grocery cart down the aisle. I looked at the sliver of blue on the edge of the handle and as I glanced up the greeting card aisle lingered in the corner of my eye. My hands gripped the cart tight so that I retained my balance. As I paused, I saw young and old, women and men, all stand in unison, perusing the stacks of messages on pretty paper, wondering which Hallmark saying reminded them of their father. Watching each person pick up a card and then put it back or place it in their cart, created a nostalgic, but an intense and sad feeling. I envision these same people signing their name in the inside of the card, sealing the envelope, and either mailing or delivering these greetings to their fathers.
Every year, during Father’s day, this is what I miss the most. When it comes down to it, what I long for most are all of the mundane and ordinary exchanges with my father. On certain days I want to call him on the phone and talk about nothing in particular. Or I want to drive with him to the ice cream store, sit in the booth, with the whole family enjoying their favorite flavor of goodness. Other days, I want to yell at him or listen to him lecture about whatever he believes is “right” for me. Part of me wants to pick up a greeting card, just so I can listen to him say, “Why did you get me a card? You know I don’t like you spending money on me. I know both you and your sister love me.” Every year, we picked out a card on Father’s day and his response would be, “You did not need to get me a card.” But we did it anyway. After he passed, we went through my father’s desk and discovered he kept a couple of those cards. As much as he protested against them, I know a part of him enjoyed the acknowledgment.
I received another reminder of greeting cards and the magic they hold. This past week my daughter brought out her colors and a piece of paper. With careful intention, she drew a picture of herself and her version of her Daddy and wrote a Father’s day message for him. She gave it to him, not wanting to wait for the actual day. As soon as he read it, he put it in his drawer. I know he keeps a stash of his favorite keepsakes from our daughter. I suspect years from now, in my husband’s quiet moments, he will stumble across that card and think about the day that she gave it to him.
The pulse of life lies in those wholly ordinary gestures.
Happy Father’s Day to you and yours.