As a little girl, Sunday mornings meant one thing: donuts.
I woke early, opened the door, creeped onto the driveway and fetched the morning paper. Rushing to the dining table, I shuffled through the headlines, grabbed the comic section, the glossy Parade magazine and the Target circular. After 10 minutes of moving through this ritual, my father walked down the hallway, dressed, keys in hand with one question, “Are you ready?”
I never said a word. A nod later and an exit out the door, I settled into the front seat next to him, headed to our favorite Sunday morning place, Southern Maid Donuts. My immigrant father evolved into a donut connoisseur over the years. He taste tested selections from donut joints a few miles near our house, but these choices failed to satisfy his palate. After years of misses, he discovered a donut mecca in a shop located twenty-five minutes from our house. My sister and I attempted to convince him to stick to closer donut shop alternatives, because we didn’t want to wait for our sweet breakfast, but he held firm. Southern Maid or bust. We grabbed a dozen donuts, headed home and sat around the dining table, munching on sweet goodness as my father sipped chai and my sister and I gulped our milk. I remember my mother peering around the hallway, stealing a glimpse, a smile forming on both of our faces as we recognized the familiarity of this ritual.
Morning slithered in-between the slats of our blinds. Another Sunday gave birth and Father’s Day landed.
Newspapers don’t land anywhere in our neighborhood and there aren’t any exchanges between my father and I regarding donuts or anything else. I struggle with this truth since his passing. There are days when the grief is too much to bear; I swallow it, retreat into a quiet place and try to remember happier memories. Often, I turn to my little girl self and recount the small ways my father infused traditions and rituals to offer a place to cushion my sadness.
Where did I drive this morning? To a local donut shop twenty minutes outside of our home. It is my daughter’s favorite place and she wanted to surprise her daddy with donuts. I grabbed my keys, headed to my car and drove to this local favorite. My mind gravitated toward all of those countless mornings as a passenger in my father’s car, driving with him, the comfort in the cadence of familiarity.
I pulled into the driveway after picking up donuts and wiped a single tear from my eye.
Here’s to you, Dad. Thanks for all the donut Sundays. They help me remember.