My dad passed away 8 years ago today. I am sitting in the same place this morning that I was when I got the phone call from mom saying it would be a good idea for me to come to Oklahoma because dad was on a fast decline. I called Karen and she left work immediately. We hurriedly packed, put the kids in the car and drove south. We arrived minutes after he had passed.
One thing about that day that I remember clearly was how quickly everything seemed to carry on. There were arrangements to be made, forms to sign, as well as preparing for burial. It’s the muse in me that wanted everything to slow down and take it all in, but there was no time for that. It would have to come later. I asked my family for a moment alone in the room to say goodbye. I sat by his bed for a few minutes, thinking about what I would miss about my dad. One predominant thought was that he would never get to see my restaurant. He would never sit at my bar and let me slide a pint his way. I would no longer get to feel his pride in his son that he so often communicated to me. I would be entering a new season without all of that.
Being extremely sentimental, I keep certain pieces of my heritage that have iconic meaning. Old license plates, an old crate of dad’s from the Army, his tackle box; these are all symbols of what I remember as being from a family that loved me and raised me well. One of those icons was a $100 bill that dad gave me years ago. As was his practice, he wrote his name on these big bills (He wrote his name on everything.) I never knew why, other than if he ever dropped a bill, he would have a way of identifying it as his. Instead of leaving the bill in the drawer, I decided to turn it into another memorial. Since he would never eat in my restaurant in my new found career as a chef, I would etch the date of his passing on a nice chef knife. It’s pictured above, alongside my bandaged finger that I cut on the first day of using it.
Even at age 50, the voice of my father is still important. I feel fortunate that I have endearing memories that I want to memorialize and keep in the forefront of my mind. I’ll begin to tell more of these next week.